When people speak of bullying, all too often the conversation is limited to young people and schools. Yes, children and young adults do face bullying both in school and online, but they aren’t the only victims of cyber-bullying. Work place bullying is also a serious issue and can occur both at work and after hours online. Serious trolling, where the troll repeatedly attacks someone they have never met with the aim of causing them maximum distress, is also a major online problem. We were pleased to welcome recent improvements to Twitter including a new policy to ban accounts that were set up simply to harass others.
Online violence can take the form of harassment and stalking. Its aim, like other forms of bullying, is to make the bully feel powerful by pushing someone else down. The bully does this by causing emotional harm, seeking to attack a woman’s self confidence and sense of control over their own life. In some cases such serious bullying can extend to efforts to push a chosen victim towards self harm or suicide. Women, men and transgender people can all be subjected to such online violence, just as all members of society can be the victim of offline violence. When the victim is a woman, however, the nature and language of the attack is distinct.
Like racism, misogyny too has its own slurs, stereotypes and imagery. In our page on misogyny we note how this form of hate includes rape jokes, threats and intimidation, slut-shaming, cyber-mobbing a woman to push her out of the discussion, and revenge porn. Such abuse occurs all the time. Even on White Ribbon Day, the annual day of campaigning against violence against women.
We’ve previously shared Caitlin Roper’s story of online misogyny, and as 2016 begins, little has changed. Below we are pleased to share Carla’s open letter to Facebook about a misogynistic bully; a response to another case of violence against women on social media. Carla’s response is a strong one, and it highlights where Facebook in particular is falling short. We’re pleased not only to share this with you, but to also share it with Facebook, who we will be contacting and providing details of this abuser’s multiple accounts to so they can look into it and take action. Such violence against women has no place either online or in society at large.
UPDATE: The troll’s account was closed after we reported their details to Facebook. See more here.
Originally published as: Carla Louise, “Dear Facebook“, December 31, 2015. The Online Hate Prevention Institute thanks Carla for sharing this with us and allowing us to republish it.
I love you. I really do. When I lived eight hours away from my family and twelve hours away from my friends, you made it so easy (and affordable) to keep in contact with everyone.
However, recently, I’ve realised that you are letting me down – and other women – on a continual basis.
Well, according to your Community Standards, Facebook is designed to “keep you safe”. (Yes, I know we all need to be realistic in regards to “safe”. If you post a naked photo, it’s the internet, it’ll never come down. If you criticise your boss, and he or she sees it, they may fire you. “Safe” is a relative term; but please, bear with me.) We can report people and their content can be removed and disabled if we are being threatened, harassed and abused – among other things (like hate speeches and symbols).
Supposedly, according to your standards, you work to “encourage respectful behaviour”.
However, when I reported a man’s threatening, abusive and racist behaviour (on behalf of another woman), your review came back saying you found that his comments didn’t violate the community standards you say you uphold.
Don’t believe me?
I took screenshots.
It gets worse … trust me.
Despite the fact that this man insulted people of colour, Jewish people, women who “consorted” with people of colour, and said that she would get “ravaged a pack of feral n*****”, you did not deem any of this to be harassment. Or hate speech. Or anything. And this was all one man, to one woman, who just ignored it. You responded with your standard, “This does not violate Facebook’s Community Standards”.
So then I decided to report my own abuse and threats that I was currently receiving, and you responded in the exact same manner.
So I started taking more and more screenshots.
Jack, my lovely friend Jack here, as you can see below (I’ve only snipped parts of it …. his conversations were incredibly long, and while I was originally going to include all of it, I figured that the ‘general gist’ was better than the whole nine yards which were hundreds of words long) felt it perfectly acceptable to insult, abuse and harass me.
He’s okay with calling me a retard:
And a moron:
And he’s comfortable with insulting domestic violence victims, while calling me a dumbass:
Then started posting in public forums about me, because I blocked him for continually insulting me (I’m crazy like that – and it may not seem like much, but I have 35 copies of Jack’s insults. That’s thirty-five snap-shots I could use to prove just how many times Jack insulted me. Let that sink in just for a moment before telling me “It’s not that bad”.):
Then created a new profile, because I blocked him. And he called me a twat … but I guess that’s okay, in your standards, Facebook? Because he didn’t use c***? And it’s obviously not harassment when someone creates a second profile and comes back to find you on an old thread to insult you. This was an old thread. Days old. He says he came back to see what I was saying, but I said nothing after I blocked him. There wasn’t anything to say; he was clearly a troll. However, despite this, he continues to harass me for a bit longer.
Apparently, I am only allowed to be offended if they’re ‘gendered’ insults, in Jack’s mind (and edit – I did not call Jack any of these names. I try and always keep my discussions civil; I was merely recounting the names he’d called me, because I said that ‘feminism was needed because of the insults women face on the internet. Clearly, Jack feels it’s okay to insult women if they aren’t gendered insults):
And he’s not afraid to call me crazy when I call him out:
And does not understand the definition of ‘harassment’:
He also believes stereotypes are okay, and introduces a new insult (I guess after a time ‘fuckwit’ and ‘moron’ get boring):
And then tries to shame me (unsuccessfully) after creating the second profile, because I don’t want to listen to his abuse or be bombarded by his constant harassment. But apparently, feeling that this is unacceptable behaviour from anyone is ‘cowardly’:
And so I reported Jack. And blocked him for the second time.
And despite the fact of all of this, Facebook still tells me that this does not define harassment. Or abuse. Or indecent behaviour of any kind.
Oh, and what about when I reported John? Whose account is obviously fake, as he uses someone else’s photos and has maybe 30 friends, most of which are naked women, used solely to troll and insult women because #menimism.
Almost all of his pictures are supported with the hashtag #servethecock.
(There’s more, but I think you see my point.)
Yet, you, Facebook, deemed not one of these to be offensive. Somehow, this does not violate your community standards – but women showing pictures of breast feeding (and no visible nipple) is not okay? Women showing their recovery after a mastectomy – where there is no nipple to even show – thatviolates your community standards?
And somehow, #servethecock does not violate these standards?
A man creating a second profile to track me down and further harass and insult me also does not violate your standards?
A man saying he hopes a woman gets raped is not a violation?
I am a woman, and I am tired of being insulted and shamed and abused and threatened when I’ve posted anything on Facebook.
Also, Facebook, please keep in mind that Jack’s screenshots were all taken in the past twenty-four hours.
Imagine the screenshots I’d have in a week.
In a month.
Think of all the times a woman – or a man – is abused, threatened and harassed and you do nothing because somehow (god knows how) but you say that this doesn’t violate your community standards.
So please, Facebook. Maybe you need to be clearer about what violates your “community standards” because I’m shocked and confused about about how #servethecock and “I hope you get raped” is somehow not worse than a breastfeeding photo.
You are not protecting anyone.
You are not keeping anyone safe.
And you need to rethink, seriously, about how people can report profiles, memes, and comments, because right now your reporting process is beyond unacceptable.
Perhaps start by separating the categories – harassment and hate speech shouldn’t be together; nor should a lot of other categories. Give a person 50 words or less to write and explain why they are reporting an image or a person (so, for example, you know that I’ve had to block Jack for his behaviour more than once and perhaps maybe you’d take that into consideration).
And just so it’s clear: this is not about revenge; not on any of these men. This is not about maybe getting someone fired from a job – which is why, for the most part, I’ve tried to block out everyone’s names and pictures (except for John Hunt … because, you know, obviously fake). I am not trying to shame any one individual; I’m trying to make a point. The point is that Facebook’s current system, it’s “community standards” is a failure.
Your current system is despicable. I’ve tried telling you this each time you’ve “failed” when I’ve reported something, and nothing has ever happened. My only hope is that this message gets enough attention that you see it.
And get the problem.
p.s. Facebook, after you failed me twice, Twitter is far more helpful. You see, because Jack is a stalker who does not understand harassment, he is tracking me down on every able source, because it’s “fun”. (And other women; so thanks for failing, Facebook.) However, because Twitter gives you the opportunity to explain why you want to report a person, I actually had the opportunity to explain the reasons why he actually was harassing me. But thanks, Facebook. Way to show “safety” in a community.
Help share Carla’s letter: