RECENTLY I wrote about Heterosexual Awareness Month, a campaign against LGBT rights and marriage equality which is spreading ignorance and prejudice on Facebook.
I discovered their Facebook page in May and reported some of its content, which I considered to be blatantly homophobic.
At first Facebook responded to say these posts didn’t violate their Community Standards, even though they clearly state:
Facebook does not permit hate speech, but distinguishes between serious and humorous speech. While we encourage you to challenge ideas, institutions, events, and practices, we do not permit individuals or groups to attack others based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, disability or medical condition.
Shortly before writing my last post about this campaign, I received notification from Facebook informing me that these posts were no longer visible because the page had been removed. However, a Facebook search for Heterosexual Awareness Month revealed more than a dozen variations of the campaign page that had been removed.
Then this week I returned from a week away to find further notifications from Facebook saying that the posts I had reported may be visible again as the page had been reinstated, and inviting me to report it again if I still think they violate these standards.
Of course I still think they do – though Facebook can’t seem to make up its mind. I don’t understand why they would remove a page for violating its own standards then reinstate it with its offensive content intact. Being on the ‘naughty step’ for a month appears to have done nothing to dent the false pride of this campaign. An admin posted after the page was reinstated:
Today is a great day. Let us celebrate the return of HAM, and let us celebrate Heterosexuality! Don’t be ashamed for being normal.
So I have decided to share the posts I reported to see if my readers think they count as humorous or hate speech. Let me know what you think and, more importantly, let Facebook know what you think. If it truly is a social and democratic medium, maybe Facebook will respond more consistently if enough people make their voices heard.
Let’s be clear – I don’t expect everyone to agree with LGBT rights or marriage equality, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect a rational and well informed debate. This campaign shows little of that – but it’s important to note that they’re claiming erosion of their rights and prejudice against them, as cartoon posted today shows:
I’ve chosen not to enter the lion’s den and comment on any of these posts directly, as I believe that way madness lies. I also choose not to demonise the page admins or those who post on this page. I believe the only way to bring about meaningful challenge and change is to deal with facts and evidence to counter injustice and prejudice, not to engage in personal abuse in return. I know others who read this may not agree, but I believe trading personal abuse only serves to entrench both sides in defensive positions. It feels futile to engage in debate with those who troll on this page – let’s focus our efforts on getting Facebook to enforce its Community Standards more consistently and effectively.
So here goes – these are the posts I reported:
- This image may seem harmless enough, but the comments which follow give a flavour of the kind of interaction this page gets.
- This post, which denies the existence of homophobia.
- This image, which implies that anything other than ‘traditional marriage’ is perversion.
- This image which perpetuates the dangerous myth that AIDS is not an issue for heterosexuals.
- These two posts which imply that all gay men are interested in is anal sex and group sex.
I was also interested to see that a page opposing this campaign has sprung up – maybe worth adding your voice to them too.
Happy reporting – let me know if you have more constructive feedback than I did.
UPDATE August 2017: All the various ‘Heterosexual Awareness Month’ pages appear to have been removed from Facebook. I have decided to leave the links to the posts above so that, if they are reinstated as they were in 2014, readers will be able to report them more easily.