Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Facebook's Sex Trafficking Problem: A Follow-Up

So, the Sonagachi Facebook page has finally been removed. This is a good thing, and I'm proud to be part of the group of people who worked to have it done.

But I'm also incredibly disappointed in Facebook. Why did it take this much work to remove a page that was blatantly graphic and in promotion of human trafficking? Why was this example of violence against women not immediately recognized as a violation of their terms of service?

In light of WAM's successful campaign to get Facebook to agree to give gender-based hate speech the same treatment as homophobic, anti-Semitic, racist, Islamophobic, etc, hate speech, it seems especially appalling that it took as much effort as it did to have this removed.

Here is a brief overview of the process of reporting this page:

June 4
-My friend Liz discovered the page while doing research into the Sonagachi district for a blog post she is writing.
-She shared the page with a Facebook group that we are both members of, asking anyone who could stomach looking at the page to please report it.
-Many of us reported it as sexually graphic content.
-After a short period of time, those of us who reported it began receiving the emails saying it would not be removed (I included the language in my post last night). Many of us filled out the feedback form with some strongly-worded disagreement.
-Some of us reported it a second time, only to receive the same email, and fill out the feedback again.
-Liz wrote about the process on her own blog. Another friend, Slay Belle, wrote about it for the Powder Room section of Jezebel.
-We share these posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, sometimes tweeting at well-known feminist activists and groups who might also promote the issue.
-Emails were sent to WAM

June 5
-The Jezebel post was promoted to the first page of the site.
-More people tweeted at Nick Kristof, Anderson Cooper, and other individuals they thought might be interested in the story.
-Women's Media Center shared Liz's blog post
-Liz's post was also published on Persephone Magazine
-The Daily Dot picked up the story
-Another member of the same original Facebook group created a petition (which has been refocused to be a more general plea for the site to take trafficking pages more seriously)
-The Sonagachi fan page was removed

I repeat my question: why did it take almost a full day, dozens of reports, a social media barrage, and blog attention to get this page removed? Why was it not enough that it was full of graphic imagery and victimization of women, many of whom appear underage?

Why, despite their recent promises, does Facebook still not care about women?

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