When did the social media giant become the enabler of harassment?
I’ve been on Facebook for over a decade now. I’ve seen watched it evolve from “The Facebook” in college to what it is today. I remember freshman year of college when my friend told me how I needed to join this awesome website. I remember I had to use my college email to sign up and I was able to reconnect with my friends from high school who had moved out of San Diego for school. I look back at some of my first posts thanks to Facebook Memories and cringe at how cringey my 19-year old self was.
But now, I cringe for another reason. After my swimsuit pics went live on my Facebook profile and page, friend requests started flooding in. Thrilled, and after looking carefully at each profile making sure they were real people, I went through the accept and decline process. It didn’t take long to get the hang of it.
It was only a matter of time before the harassing messages started coming in. I had men messaging me filthy things, asking me for pics of my private parts, and then threatening me if I didn’t oblige. I have also been sent countless photos and videos that I can only describe as pornography and dick pics. Obviously, the block button was used. And the messages were reported. The profiles were reported.
Guess what? These guys still have profiles. They are still messaging unsuspecting women photos of their privates and messaging them threats of sexual assault and rape. They still have active accounts and profiles. Let that sink in. Facebook also doesn’t give you reports on what happened to the message you reported. It’s like it disappears into an abyss of identical reports, never to be checked or followed up on. Facebook seems to selectively decide what derogatory comments and posts stay up.
Ironically, Facebook took down a screenshot of a censored dick pic I had posted on the offender’s timeline, saying it violated their community standards. But they didn’t take down the original post the offender made on my profile, nor did they do anything about the dick pic he sent me. So, is Facebook is willing to protect the offenders but not the victims? I can’t tell you how many reports I’ve filed on Facebook in the past few months. I can guess that the number is well over the triple digits. I’m not alone. Ever since I started sharing (censored) screenshots of the messages I’ve been receiving, hundreds of women have reached out to me to share their own experience and how this is a regular occurrence for them. This is absolutely unacceptable.
What is interesting is that I don’t have the same experience on Instagram or Twitter. When I report, the offender’s account is gone in a matter of hours. I know others have had differing experiences, so maybe I was just lucky. As noted in my blog, You Should Be Grateful for the Attention, there was a convicted pedophile who had his profile up for weeks after it was reported for sending unsolicited derogatory photos. His criminal record is accessible, and there were reports sent in about his harassment of women…and yet, Facebook dragged their heels on this.
I get it…going through these reports have to suck. But it’s necessary. At this point, Facebook is merely slapping the wrists of these people, which empowers them to continue doing what they’re doing. Social media is already becoming a cesspool of negativity thanks to people using their keyboards as a security blanket. If an offender flashed someone on the street, they would be arrested. In most cases, we have a name and a location for these offenders, and yet there are no consequences. Because there are no consequences, the behavior continues in this vicious, sick cycle. It must stop.
It has to stop.