Facebook has vowed to take action after feminist activists — upset about Facebook’s failure to ban and/or remove misogynous content from its site — sent more than 5,000 e-mails to Facebook’s advertisers and garnered more than 60,000 posts on Twitter, prompting advertisers like Nissan to say that they would withdraw advertising from the site.
Although women’s groups have complained to Facebook about misogynous content in the past, the issue heated up least week when a collective led by Women, Action and the Media; Laura Bates of the Everyday Sexism Project; and Soraya Chemaly, a writer and activist, published an open letter asking Facebook executives to “ban gender-based hate speech on your site.” The letter cited Facebook pages with names like “Violently Raping Your Friend Just for Laughs”, “Kicking your Girlfriend in the Fanny because she won’t make you a Sandwich,” and other pages that featured graphic descriptions and imagery of women being abused.
In what could prove an industry-wide reminder of the power of advertisers (which actually demonstrates the power of consumers), over a dozen of the companies contacted by the activists — including automotive giant Nissan — agreed to pull their ads from Facebook until appropriate action was taken to rectify the situation. David Reuter, a spokesman for Nissan, said on Tuesday that his company has stopped all Nissan advertising on Facebook until it can be sure its ads will not appear on pages with offensive content.
“We thought that advertisers would be the most effective way of getting Facebook’s attention,” said Jaclyn Friedman, the executive director of Women, Action and the Media. “We had no idea that it would blow up this big. I think people have been frustrated with this issue for so long and feeling like that had no way for Facebook to pay attention to them. As consumers we do have a lot of power.”
In response to the upheaval, Facebook published a blog post on Tuesday, admitting its own shortcomings and laying out a plan for improvement. The post read in part: