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in brief: advertisers enraged by products appearing on pro-rape facebook pages

Businesses such as Vodafone and Dove are up in arms after being alerted that their advertisements were appearing on vicious Facebook pages such as “Drop kicking sluts in the teeth” and “Raping!”

UK charity Shelter, which fights against homelessness, has contacted Facebook to complain over the positioning of its advertisements.

Facebook is notoriously slow in responding to complaints over pages that promote violence against women. In January, the website received widespread criticism for refusing to take down an image of a young woman, doctored to appear physically abused. The image bore the slogan: ‘Women are like grass, they need to be beaten/cut regularly.’ Facebook eventually took the image down and apologised, but first defended its position, saying: ‘In general, attempts at humour, even disgusting and distasteful ones, do not violate our policies [for images that will be removed].’

Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, was reportedly the one who alerted the companies to their presence on pro-rape/violence pages. The Project uses Twitter to call out commonplace acts of sexism, and used the social network site to draw attention to the advertisements.

Other advertisers contacted by the project include Santander, Ocado and Laura Ashley whose ads have all appeared on highly offensive Facebook pages.

In the last financial quarter, Facebook’s advertising revenue grew 41% to $1.33 billion (USD).

While the advertisers are rightfully concerned over the presence of the ads on pro-violence pages, the broader issue of the enduring presence of the offensive material remains to be addressed in a meaningful manner.

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