Facebook has had a lot of trouble with misogynistic speech. A few years ago, several women’s groups joined together to petition Facebook to work harder to block misogynistic pages, posts, and replies. At the time Facebook had strict standards against hate speech that was racist or anti-semitic — such speech would be blocked or taken down. These groups simply asked that gendered hate speech receive the same treatment.
It was ironic, people said, that Facebook would commonly take down photos of women breastfeeding in response to complaints. Such content was deemed pornographic. But when Facebook users complained about comments that were misogynistic or harassing women, Facebook defended their decisions not to take them down. Their reasoning was one of semantics: Comments that described gendered violence didn’t actually threaten violence, they would argue. But — campaigners pointed out — misogynistic content actually is threatening, and creates an unsafe environment for speech.