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SexPlusFacebook: Hey, F*ck You, We're Through
"My business is on Facebook…just ignore the all the misogynist garbage!" An open letter to the social media giant still not doing enough

Bye bye Facebook.

Dear Facebook,

You’re an asshole. We’ve been in this fucked up relationship. Like a fool, I drank your KoolAid while you chugged my milkshake, and you continue to do the same to many others.

I didn’t want to be part of your network, but I relented for the sake of doing good business. When people asked if I could be found on Facebook, my absence sparked a look of disappointment that was palpable, like I was a social failure. I grew tired of that look.

So I staked my wee flag on your blue earth, and built up a respectable following for photos and event listings and anything else that caught my eye in relation to the sophisticated side of sex. Until I did the unholiest of holies and posted a photo that included a nipple. It was so benign a photo, I didn’t think twice. My mistake.

Without a word of warning about the offence, my page unceremoniously vanished leaving nothing behind. All the contacts, photos and links? Gone. You blocked my calls. Not very nice. And feeling a bit of shame at flagrantly going against your Terms of Service regarding “obscene content” (nipples are just horrible things that breed nightmares), I humbly started over. I understood that I breached contract and you had all the right to wipe me off the face of that blue earth. I get it. I’m sure my photo was put through your digital shredder and not one person in your benevolent employ kept record of it. You’re too good for that.

Since then, I’ve amassed a following of amazing people, interested in destigmatizing sex and seeing it as part of a broader realm of art — to see it as an expression to be championed. I’ve been a good member of your platform, abiding by the rules of not posting terrifyingly obscene nipples. You say you’ll “impose limitations on the display of nudity” and “aspire to respect people’s right to share content of personal importance, whether those are photos of a sculpture like Michelangelo’s David or family photos of a child breastfeeding.”

Horseshit.

You don’t respect anyone’s rights. Your users are just numbers and dollar signs to you. Your advertisers don’t even care about who is actually using the site on a regular basis (known as Daily Active Users) versus those who simply sign up for an account with little use (the real numbers you use to persuade companies to spend those ad dollars). They just want to reach the broadest range of a specified demographic, and, based on all the info you leach from us, you can hand that to them on a silver platter. Nicely done.

What winds up being collateral damage in your people-and-productivity-eating machine is integrity. I have not seen in my lifetime any company that continuously ignores basic human rights as much as you do, despite the use of the words “respect” and “rights” in your very own Terms of Service. You say that you respect your users. You say, “safety is Facebook’s top priority” and  “does not tolerate bullying or harassment” and “sharing any graphic content for sadistic pleasure is prohibited.”

More horseshit.

Most telling is your need to diminish the severity of your hate speech limitations – “Facebook does not permit hate speech…” – by adding the qualifier, “but distinguishes between serious and humorous speech.” I’m not sure when you added this secondary part to your hate speech clause. I’m guessing it happened around the same time that people were constantly complaining to you about the endless pages of misogynist content. I’m perplexed that you find images of women’s faces bashed in as amusing or free speech. That you label those images as nothing but “satire” is mindboggling. How that “respects” anyone is beyond me. But, hey, you’re the media giant, so Zuckerberg must know more about respect for half of the world’s population, or his own mother, than I do. He’s known for how well poorly he treats women. A charmer, that boss of yours!

In my timid usage of your platform, ensuring that I don’t offend people with a little circle of dark skin, I’ve had the good fortune of seeing my daily feeds include images and text of how to kill a slut, how to “handle” a pregnant girlfriend, how to hide a body, what to rate a woman’s sexual prowess, how to roofie a prom date and so on. And these are just the formal Pages that spring up. Every. Single. Day. Never mind the updates, photos and videos that a targeted demographic seems to relish in posting on their own pages as evidence of a good time had by all: fights, clothes stripped off drunken women, rapes.

In my love/hate relationship with you – “Fuck yeah! My business is on Facebook…just ignore the all the misogynist garbage surrounding it!” – you tested my limits of tolerance. You seem to have loads of it. Me, not so much. Despite repeated requests from individuals as well as organizations that have been trying to have even just a conversation with you about what true respect means, you shut us out at every pass. On the rare occasion you deem this segment of your audience worthy of a response, we get blanket referrals back to that ever-so-vital Terms of Service. Like this gem, for example.

It’s really great to know that you’re deeply vested in adhering to your Terms of Service. I guess I’ve been living in a cave, or just reading the wrong things, or been busy being a human to think the image linked above — or a picture of a woman’s severed head — isn’t actually depicting harm to someone (women aren’t people, after all!), but is really just a source for a good laugh. Haha. Joke’s on me, I guess. Good one!

I’m won’t wax too poetic about how often the 13,000+ strong page I helped setup to combat such crap has to vigilantly moderate their posts to avoid triggering remarks. I’m not going to talk too much about all the other shit that I and others have to deal with on your beloved billion dollar entity –all the homophobic and racist content. Nor I am going to complain too much about my creating a business page to spread the word to avid Facebook followers, only for my content to be throttled unless I pay up each time I post.  I won’t go too much into the sponsored ads now filling my feed with info about how to lose weight, what’s the best fast food to eat, how to increase my soft-drink intake, or what Dr. Oz has to say about it all (you know me so well!). Not to mention that you tend to sexualize every part of the human body to lascivious levels and vehemently take down pages about breastfeeding, surviving mastectomies, discussions (not pictures, discussions) about feminist porn, and ads about breast cancer. Don’t get me started on the pedophile pages of your latest acquisition, Instagram.

Nah, that would just be petty of me.

What I’m really curious about is your worry that the (mostly) younger demographic thriving on your abusive content is the one you’re concerned about alienating. Do you honestly think that if you change your policy and truly forbad any such content, that these people would abandon you in such numbers to affect your profitability? That you’re not at all concerned about the other people that will, in fact, petition against you or even leave you because you allow such hateful content to spread within your platform like a plague is evidence of real gall.

I certainly hope the current petition launched by Everyday Sexism charging advertisers to remove their campaigns from your site–because they often land on those plague-filled pages–is successful. I hope you lose a shitload of ad dollars as well as a slew of important users, enough to truly damage your business. I know you as a corporation may not be bothered by the steady stream of violent garbage thrown our way on a daily basis on almost every single platform, online and off, but as a human being, it tends to get to a person.

Coincidentally, only hours after finishing this letter, you’ve broken your silence, citing that Facebook bosses would take serious consideration about the proliferation and acceptance of misogynist content, and that you will work toward bettering their policies. Some of it sounds a bit patronizing, but some of it offers a hopeful look toward rectifying the problem. I’m not sure how effective it will be as this type of scourge has ways of leaking through cracks, but it’s at least promising that Facebook made a public statement instead of ignoring those calling for attention.

You’ve shown time and time again you not only don’t give a shit about my small business, especially when you set an average daily budget of $21 for each post, but you also don’t give a shit about me as a woman or the millions of people on your site that repeatedly tell you violence against women and marginalized groups is a bad thing. If I had wanted to deal with hateful bullshit, I’d be on 4Chan. Even your half-hearted response doesn’t cover all my issues and the way you deal with small business and the over-zealous policing of nudity.

So with that, I’m dumping you. Oh, and I still stand by my decision to tell you, Facebook, to fuck the hell off. 

No regards,

SJFB

————

Sonya JF Barnett, also known as “The Madame,” is the founder of an erotic arts community called The Keyhole Sessions and the co-founder of SlutWalk Toronto. Follow her on Twitter @KeyholeSessions

For more, follow us on Twitter @TorontoStandard and subscribe to our newsletter.

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