These pages, with names such as “You know she’s playing hard to get when your [sic] chasing her down an alley,” were not a new phenomenon. Campaigns and petitions to get them removed, however, only began in earnest in August of this year.
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Despite the widespread support these campaigns received, Facebook was dismissive.
A highly misguided initial statement from the social network likened the pages to a rude joke that “won’t get you thrown out of your local pub”. This statement only further incensed campaigners.
“…it is not acceptable for Facebook to liken these comments to ‘pub jokes’ or refer to them as legitimate entertainment, as they did in a recent statement. Facebook has previously removed images of women breastfeeding and from this we can only assume that they consider breasts to be more offensive than rape,” one petition with more than 6000 signatures angrily stated after Facebook’s infamous statement’s release.
Sense, however, has finally prevailed at the world’s largest social network.
It seems Facebook has finally decided to take user reports “of questionable and offensive content very seriously”. There had also been reports that businesses had expressed concern that their adverts, Facebook’s primary financial stream, were appearing on the pages.
Facebook, however, also qualified the action saying that “groups or pages that express an opinion on a state, institution, or set of beliefs – even if that opinion is outrageous or offensive to some – do not by themselves violate our policies.”
“These online discussions are a reflection of those happening offline, where conversations happen freely.”
Though happy at the pages’ removal, Jane Osmond of Women’s Views On News speaking with the BBC found this qualification to be disappointing to the extent that she penned an an article demanding that further actions should be taken by Facebook.
“Simply removing the pages does not go far enough. The public need to know that Facebook have revised their position, rather than just removed the pages to protect their public image.”