Facebook rape joke pages taken down from social network

Facebook logo in an eyeball
Image caption Advocacy groups want Facebook to provide more detail about why it removed the pages

Facebook has removed several rape joke pages from its social network.

The group pages, which included "You know she's playing hard to get when you're chasing her down an alleyway" had been criticised by victim support groups.

The network said: "There is no place on Facebook for content that is hateful, threatening, or incites violence."

However, controversial postings may remain if administrators add a tag stating they are humorous or satire.

Action was taken because page administrators failed to comply with Facebook's request that they add the tags to their pages' headlines, and became in breach of the firm's terms and conditions.

"We take reports of questionable and offensive content very seriously," the network told the BBC.

"However, we also want Facebook to be a place where people can openly discuss issues and express their views, while respecting the rights and feelings of others.

"Groups or pages that express an opinion on a state, institution, or set of beliefs - even if that opinion is outrageous or offensive to some - do not by themselves violate our policies.

"These online discussions are a reflection of those happening offline, where conversations happen freely."

Pub joke

The statement's formal language contrasts with the firm's previous comments.

In August it said: "Just as telling a rude joke won't get you thrown out of your local pub, it won't get you thrown off Facebook."

Facebook's initial reluctance to intervene prompted criticism from campaign groups. Businesses also expressed concern that their adverts were appearing on the pages.

Campaigners said they were "delighted" that the postings had been taken down. However, they said the network needed to do more.

"Simply removing the pages does not go far enough," said Jane Osmond, from the advocacy website Women's Views On News.

"The public need to know that Facebook have revised their position, rather than just removed the pages to protect their public image."


Some of the joke pages attracted more than 190,000 "like" clicks from the website's members.

Although several postings are now offline, a search for "You know she's playing hard to get when..." still reveals many untagged pages remain.

That may change once the company decides it has given administrators enough notice to implement its rules.

"It's a tricky line for Facebook to walk," said Theresa Wise, a media consultant.

"The risk is that it becomes associated with such acts as the US government taking down Wikileaks or the Chinese restricting Google.

"On the other hand its commercial revenues depend on it not being linked to publicly odious sentiments."

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