In 2017, we have found ourselves saying things like "men are trash" and "me too" more than ever – and with decent reason. Overwhelmingly, it would be fair to think that men might actually be trash. Facebook disagrees. After being banned from Facebook for hate speech 10 separate times for posting things along the line of fair comments like "men are the worst", comedian Kayla Avery, started facebookjailed.com; a site where people can tell their story for why they were banned, and also exposing legitimate hate speech that is allowed to continue on the platform.
There have been a lot of women banned for expressing their frustration at men or for sharing their stories in the wake of the #MeToo campaign, with comedians like Marcia Belsky being suspended for commenting "men are scum" underneath a friend's post about her sexual assault. A Facebook spokesperson said "we understand how important it is for victims of harassment to be able to share their stories and for people to express anger and opinions about harassment – we allow those discussions on Facebook. We draw the line when people attack others simply on the basis of their gender".
That is where facebookjailed.com comes in. It has found a double standard – where Facebook vows to protect people who are being attacked for their race, gender or sexuality, facebookjailed found that users posting threads of lynching; personal attacks on woman and "women are scum" have all escaped being banned from Facebook. There has also been found that posts about activism, democracy and protesting have been banned, while supremacists do get people banned. The fact that Facebook considers women saying “men are trash” in response to stories of sexual assault or hate speech is troubling too. In light of recent events, a widespread fear and even dislike of men at large is to be expected.
The context is important too. When we hear about someone being sexually assaulted and say "men are trash", maybe we do not actually entirely mean it. In all fairness, if you look at some of your close friends that are men, there are a lot of men out there that are not trash. But “toxic masculinity is dangerous and some men abuse their power to assault vulnerable people – some are OK though!” just isn’t as cathartic or easy.
For women to express their discomfort over or with men who are, bear in mind for the most part, more privileged and powerful than them, so “hate speech” is a questionable term to use here. With something as throwaway and inoffensive as “men suck” and to then be banned from Facebook entirely is nothing short of censorship. And in the current news cycle, you can understand why a woman might be frustrated, or want to fight for their rights. There’s a lot worse we could say right now, trust me.
Kayla has told an online source that she has been banned multiple times from Facebook, but the most recent reason was for her posting "white dudes are the worst". She believes that once your account is flagged, Facebook is more likely to take notice of any future posts they may disagree with.
The idea for the site came to mind after Kayla met some other women who have been banned, because "I knew if it was happening to us and people of colour, especially anyone associated with Black Lives Matter, then there were countless others out there needing to get their voices heard".
Kayla also said that "it’s no secret that Silicon Valley is very white and very male", adding that Uber whistleblower, Susan Fowler’s, recent experience and the leaked Google memo “shed light on what many women already know, that the tech industry is very misogynistic". She added that Facebook does not give out any information on the demographics of the majority of its staff, but that they do deem white men as a “protected class”.
It would come as no surprise if the majority were almost all white men – hence the silencing of women while hate speech and fake news continue to circulate. These bans and Facebook’s double standard when it comes to protecting women and people of colour against hate speech are troubling; especially considering that it was recently discovered that Facebook’s censorship rules protect white men over black children. Sites and protests like these will expose that hypocrisy, and hopefully, in some way, it may change.