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Facebook and 1984

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Jane Osmond,
WVoN co-editor

Regular readers of Women’s Views on News will remember our recent Facebook Rape Campaign which resulted in Facebook having to remove a particular page that advocated rape against women through the use of ‘rape jokes.’

The campaign, which went global, started last October and ended in November with the removal of the page ‘You know she’s playing hard to get when your chasing her down an alleyway.’

But, sadly, Facebook did not change its policies to ban this type of page or the thousands like it. Instead Facebook decided that if people added a ‘humour’ or ‘satire’ tag on pages such as these, then they could stay up.

In effect then, Facebook is still allowing pages that promote misogynistic, not to say downright threatening comments, against women.  A cursory glance reveals various pages which are still in existence, which I will not link to in order to minimise page traffic, the lifeblood of Facebook.

However, if you really wish to get a feel for the types of comments I am talking about, please check out the evidence against ‘Uni Lad’, a website run by Plymouth University students recently taken down after a storm of protests (see WVoN story).

Moving forward to the end of January 2012, Facebook, with a complete lack of irony, launched a ‘Women Connect’ app which it states is aimed at:

“…raising awareness around issues of gender equality and women’s empowerment. By building technology that allows people to easily connect and share, we are helping women’s organizations and causes connect with supporters around the world.”

I’M SORRY???????

Being speechless in the face of this blatant disregard of its own propensity to destroy women’s empowerment opportunities – by allowing pages that not only offend women, but actively threaten them if they speak – please do read change.org’s article about this travesty here.

From this article you will be directed to a link to the petition and also to the page itself where you can leave your own comments.

Meanwhile, this situation – where Facebook on the one hand actively condones the abasement of women on its platform, and on the other promotes the raising of awareness of women’s empowerment – reminds me of George Orwell’s notion of doublethink, used in his novel 1984.

In essence, doublethink is helpfully defined by the online Merriam-Webster dictionary as:

“a simultaneous belief in two contradictory ideas”.

I first read 1984 over 20 years ago and was struck by how prescient it was in many ways – how the state uses war to keep the industrial complex going, the use of Big Brother to keep the population under control and now, the use of doublethink.

Facebook, get your act together please.

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