Facebook Announces Mea Culpa, Will Do More to Prevent Hate Against Women | NBC Southern California

Facebook Announces Mea Culpa, Will Do More to Prevent Hate Against Women



    (Published Wednesday, May 29, 2013)

    Facebook made a mea culpa, acknowledging in a blog post that it has "become clear that our systems to identify and remove hate have failed to work as effectively as we would like, particularly around issues of gender-based hate."

    On Tuesday, Mark Levine, vice president of global public policy, said the Menlo Park-social media giant announced several steps the company would be taking to monitor and train its teams to review and evaulate hateful speech and harmful content on Facebook sites, while working with legal experts and women's coalitions in taking improper posts down. Early in the day, at least 800 people had "liked" the change.

    Facebook's announcement did not specifically mention this month's threats against U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.)  —  which were posted on a military-oriented Facebook page that graphically belittled her and her efforts to stem sexual misconduct in the military. But it did come within the same month that the congresswoman has been quite vocal about military members posting denigrating comments on Facebook.

    MORE: U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier Calls on Marines to End Vulgar Facebook Page

    Speier is not the only one who has felt denigrated; other feminist groups have wanted to ban Facebook pages and posts that glorify violence against women, too.

    Speier was threatened on a Facebook page, littered with comments by some active-duty Marines, shortly after she had sent a letter May 8 to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel informing him of a Facebook page which, according to Speier, helped "contribute to a culture that permits and seems to encourage sexual assault and abuse."

    U.S. Capitol Police, who are investigating the threats, have asked Speier and her staff not to divulge the nature of the threat. Facebook has since taken the page down.

    In addition, there were photos posted mocking Jewish concentration camp prisoners, African Americans, and President Barack Obama, shown with a rope around his neck. But the Facebook page's primary theme involved deriding women in the military, particularly those within the Marines. The administrator posted pictures titled "this is my rape face," and "I can 'bang' even when I'm not on my back!!" atop the image of a woman holding a gun in her camouflage uniform.

    There also was a picture of Speier, photoshopped with a black eye. One poster — whose personal Facebook page lists his occupation as "Military infantry" — wrote of Speier: "I still firmly believe someone needs to struggle snuggle the s*** outta her."

    In a brief interview Tuesday at a California restaurant, Speier told NBC Bay Area that the military has a "big job ahead of itself cleaning up a very distorted culture that has been allowed to persist for decades."

    Facebook, which also lists its "law enforcement guidelines," has been known to cooperate with police agencies with active investigations that may delve into a suspect's Facebook accounts and activity. To read Facebook's prohibited speech and community standards, click here.

    Speier has been actively campaiging for the military to more to crack down on vulgar Facebook pages by its members.In her May 8 letter, also sent to Gen. James Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps, Speier said it was her "understanding that not only is the Marine Corps Inspector General aware of this page and monitoring it, but they have been doing so for over three years."

    MORE: Facebook Shutters Page That Taunted Lawmaker's Push to Curb Military Rape

    Speier has authored three bills aimed at transforming the military justice system’s treatment of sexual assault cases. Those include the STOP Act (HR 1593), which seeks to take all cases of sexual assault outside of the chain of command by creating an independent office within the military to handle the reporting, investigation, and prosecution of such crimes. The bipartisan bill has 122 co-sponsors but has not been placed into consideration for a House vote.

    NBC Bay Area's Marianne Favro contributed to this report.