On Tuesday, Facebook agreed to review its procedures to stop hate speech on the site after feminist groups sent an open letter criticizing approved content that glorifies violence against women.
“Recently there has been some attention given to Facebook’s content policy. The current concern, voiced by Women, Action and The Media, The Everyday Sexism Project, and the coalition they represent, has focused on content that targets women with images and content that threatens or incites gender-based violence or hate,” the Facebook Safety Team wrote in a blog post.
"In recent days, it has become clear that our systems to identify and remove hate speech have failed to work as effectively as we would like, particularly around issues of gender-based hate.”
Activists also sent over 5,000 emails to companies who have advertisements appearing on Facebook pages with hate speech content. Nissan and other companies responded saying they would pull their ads. Nationwide removed their advertisements and apologized to consumers via Twitter.
Using the hashtag #FBrape, more than 60,000 tweets were generated and more than 100 organizations have pledged support for the activists.
Nissan UK tweeted that it’s “not happy about this and many people in the office rightly upset. It’s wrong and we don’t support it. Ever.”
Other companies, including American Express, Dove, British Airways, Sky, Easyjet and Ocado, were contacted by angry consumers who saw their ads along side hateful, explicit content.
Proctor & Gamble came under fire after they told a consumer, "We can’t control what content they [our advertising] pops up next to. Obviously it’s a shame that our ad happened to pop up next to it."
The Facebook blog post outlined a plan to confront hate speech and update guidelines for content. “We define harmful content as anything organizing real world violence, theft, or property destruction, or that directly inflicts emotional distress on a specific private individual (e.g. bullying),” said the post, which was undersigned by their Vice President of Global Public Policy Marne Levine.
Facebook promised to properly train administrators and hold content creators responsible for what they create.
“We have been working over the past several months to improve our systems to respond to reports of violations, but the guidelines used by these systems have failed to capture all the content that violates our standards. We need to do better – and we will.”