Facebook Revises Policy on Hate Speech After Boycott from Women's Groups

Courtesy of Michael Colanero
Model is Jamie Inman
Michael Colanero, founder of the Breast Cancer Awareness Body Painting Project, has had beef with Facebook since 2011. Colanero and his team of artists created a series of images featuring breast-cancer survivors -- many of whom had been through mastectomies -- topless, their chests painted elaborately with thick paint.

Facebook deleted most of those photos, deeming them inappropriate for the site. Yet Facebook has frequently allowed sexually-charged images of scantily-clad women in other instances.

"Breasts for marketing and sexuality are just fine, but breasts for a cause or awareness ... are routinely deleted," said Colanero, who has been banned from Facebook a few times for posting from his "Survivor" series. Colanero is an artist and gallery owner himself.

Courtesy of Michael Colanero
Sports Illustrated vs. Breast Cancer Awareness Body Paint Project
Last week, though, feminist groups and Twitter-users took Facebook to task, and began pressuring the social media monster to change its ways. They instigated an ad boycott.

An open letter to Facebook on the Huffington Post read:

Groups, pages, and images [explicitly condoning rape or domestic violence or suggesting] that they are something to laugh or boast about... are approved by your moderators, while you regularly remove content such as pictures of women breastfeeding, women post-mastectomy and artistic representations of women's bodies... The only acceptable representation of women's nudity are those in which women appear as sex objects or the victims of abuse.

Facebook finally seems to have capitulated. Late Tuesday, the networking site released a statement saying "it has become clear that our systems to identify and remove hate speech have failed to work as effectively as we would like, particularly around issues of gender-based hate."

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