November 15, 2012

Does Facebook Have a Misogynistic Agenda? The Policy Department Responds.


A Response from the Facebook Policy Department to Recent Article, “Does Facebook Hate All Women—or Just Feminists.”

 We received the following explanation and clarification of Facebook policies in response to Trista Hendren’s recent article, “Does Facebook Hate All Women—or Just Feminists?” ~ Ed.


An employee at Facebook brought your article to my attention and I thought it might be helpful to clarify some of the issues raised. This article covers quite a few topics so I’ll do my best to respond.

You can find explanations of the several issues raised in your article below, and please let me know if you require any further information. It would be great if you could provide an additional fact-check update in light of these facts, and I’ll be happy to escalate any other material you would like reviewed.

Thanks so much

Fred Wolens

Facebook Policy Communications

Joanne Jackson photo:  Mastectomy photos do not violate our content standards and are permitted on the site. The photos in the article were never removed from this user’s account. We aren’t sure why these allegations were leveled against us.

The Body is Not an Apology: Unfortunately, exposed breasts are against our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. At the moment, we have absolutely no way of rationally delimitating “non-sexual images posted by women” from other potentially pornographic nude images. It’s incredibly difficult to come up with any sort of workable standards around non-sexualized vs sexualized nudity particularly for reviewers faced with hundreds of thousands of reports every week, if you have any particular thoughts on this matter, I’ll be happy to relay your concerns to our Policy Team.

Breastfeeding:  This applies to breastfeeding too. We allow all images of breastfeeding but you can’t expose any nipples.

Hildur Lillendahl: The way we apply our policies extend to Hildur Lillendahl too since we don’t have any context on the abusive photos she posts.

Birth Defects: We have taken numerous steps to add flexibility to our policies to allow pictures of children with birth defects and we made a mistake removing the anencephaly pictures.

On the Uprising of the Arab Women issue: we actually made a mistake in two cases and made the correct decision in the third. We have reviewed this situation numerous times and have rectified any mistakes. You can find out more here on Reddit.

Controversial Rape Pages: We prohibit content we deem to be genuinely harmful, but allow content that is offensive or controversial. Harmful content is generally defined as that which leads to or organizes real world violence, theft or property destruction, that which intentionally and directly inflicts emotional distress on a specific private individual, and that which is broadly illegal. A list of prohibited categories of content can be found in our Community Standards document.

We seek to prohibit such attacks while giving people the opportunity to use language – even when highly offensive – to express their opinions, tell jokes, and engage in other activities that we believe do not represent direct threats of harm. When evaluating speech on Facebook, we analyze the nature of the speech itself, as well as its perceived intent as indicated by any additional context we may have. We believe this additional information is important, since identical words may be hateful in one context, or off-color attempts at humor in another (such as with stand-up comedy).

If we believe that a page was created to attack a protected group, we will remove it immediately. Our goal is to eliminate such attacks while still preserving free speech. I want to assure you that we understand your concern about the pages you referenced in your article. They are abhorrent not only to me, but to many other people who work at Facebook. Having said that, as long as these types of pages do not violate our policies as explained above, we err on the side of allowing people to express themselves.


 Thanks to Fred Wolens from Policy Communications for taking the time to respond.


Ed: Kate Bartolotta


Like equal rights for all on Facebook.


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