Calling men ‘trash’ or ‘scum’ now hate speech: Facebook bans comedians & activists
The comments were not directed or targeted toward any specific men but were instead responses to alleged harassment they had received online. Whether these were genuinely held beliefs, simple hyperbole or knee-jerk reactions to genuine harassment has yet to be determined. Facebook's policy simply bans offending users for a period of up to 30 days for a first-time "hate speech" offense.
“I personally posted men are scum in November and I received a seven-day ban. It’s still ongoing. Two days and 23 hours left,” said comedian Alison Klemp, as cited by The Daily Beast. Men are now considered a protected class on the social media platform, according to a report by ProRepublica.
Following discussion of the issue of "Facebook jailing" in a private group of roughly 500 female comedians on the platform, the women staged a mass protest on November 24 by posting some iteration of "men are scum" to their Facebook timelines. Almost all were subsequently banned.
Comedian Marcia Belsky has previously, and publicly, declared a ‘war on men,’ but this appears to fall under the realm of satire or comedy as far as Facebook is concerned. Belsky is one of the most vocal critics of Facebook’s haphazard approach to censoring alleged, but ill-defined, hate speech.
Despite her pugnacious rhetoric, she does not, it would appear, think all men are scum.
Her comedic contemporary Kayla Avery holds far stronger views on the hate speech crackdown, however. Avery has set up both a website and a Twitter handle for women to share the Facebook jailings online. "Facebook is scum and bans women & people of color to protect men," reads the Twitter bio. Avery also alleges that Facebook is a white supremacist institution.
Marcia v Goliath Some time ago, Facebook banned Marcia Belsky for 30 days for commenting “men are scum” on a photo collage Nicole Silverberg posted of rape/death threats she got after her perfectly innocuous “How Not to Rape Women” list gained traction https://t.co/PxQtZ99kBL— Rae Sanni (@raesanni) November 28, 2017
Facebook, and other social media giants, have long-grappled with the concept of free speech versus the right to refuse service to any and all users they deem disruptive.
Now, so-called 'alt-right' trolls such as Milo Yiannopoulos, feminist activists and comedians and even the President of United States Donald Trump are subject to the whims of Zuckerberg's and Dorsey's army of anti-hate speech police, however low-level they may be within the respective companies.
For context, Facebook alone has hired 7,000 content moderators to surveil its estimated 2 billion users. The company is deliberately obtuse when describing, but never defining, its rules and guidelines surrounding hate speech infractions.
“We remove content, disable accounts and work with law enforcement when we believe that there is a genuine risk of physical harm or direct threats to public safety. Learn more about how Facebook handles abusive content,” the company wrote on its community standards page.
At present, in the US at least, there is no overarching definition of hate speech, making it purely subjective, observational and subject to change depending on which way the cultural wind is blowing.