By Chloe Rose, University of Birmingham
Facebook is the world’s biggest social media platform, allowing you to connect with anyone, anywhere, any time.
With over 1.28 billion users, Facebook is an essential part of our daily life and its presence in society is huge. What is shameful is that it has become diluted with anti-Semitism, racism and prejudice, which are equally as common on the site as viral videos, birthday posts and daily selfies.
Mark Zuckerberg’s big idea is about connecting friends. 10 billion messages are sent daily on average via Facebook and there are around 150 billion Facebook friend connections.
We use it to share news, banter, memories and opinions. We use it to debate opinions and views. But it should never be used for this kind of hatred and brazen attacks.
And this is exactly what ‘Say No to Hatebook’ stands for: the fight against hatred on Facebook. ‘Say No to Hatebook’ is a group that is committed to fighting the misuse of Facebook and to making Facebook (as a platform and a company) responsible for prohibiting hatred on its pages.
The group has been going for 8 weeks and already has around 8000 members. The original group, which was an open group, actually had to be removed because people were threatening those who called out hateful Facebook users. The new group is private – you have to email the admins to become a member, which keeps the whistle-blowers safe and allows them to report nasty incidents.
It should not be acceptable to see cartoons depicting anti-Semitism, ‘facts’ with racist bias and pages dedicated to prejudice. It is not enough for Facebook to claim to have a policy of prohibiting offensive material and the failing to put such a policy into action; it has a duty to act.
Facebook makes enormous profits – it is a business and is entitled to do that. But with that profit comes a responsibility to ensure that it is never used for racial, religious or homophobic or other prejudice.
‘Say No to Hatebook’ reports and attempts to silence those who are actively hateful on Facebook. The members of this group have been reporting pages and posts which appear to be obvious breaches of Facebook’s own ‘Community Standards’, being offensive to individuals or groups of people of various races and religions, to homosexuals, to women or to members of a vulnerable nature. Though initiated by Jews, it is by no means a Jewish group.
The members of this group include Christians, Muslims, Jews, atheists, homosexuals and people with disabilities. They are of all religions and none, of all races and sexual orientations, of all colours and nationalities, of all ages, of all statuses – but they are united in their opposition to Facebook being used as a medium of hate.
We, as students and active users of Facebook, need to make sure our voices are heard alongside those fighting against pages littered with hate. It is time to clean up Facebook’s big problem and take a dynamic stance against the hatred that we so often see on its pages. Facebook must once again be a place of community, of acceptance and of friendship.
I urge you to search for ‘Say No to Hatebook’ on Facebook and ensure that our social network is no longer a source of hate, animosity and disappointment.