Tag Archives: Dyke Pride

Facebook: Listening to Lesbians?

we love dykes

We just had a really productive conversation with Facebook.  I can’t believe I just typed that, but it is true.  In a 45-minute discussion with a spokesperson who works with the Communications Team on content policy issues, we laid everything out on the table, and we were treated with respect and given answers to questions we have been asking repeatedly for the last few weeks.  It’s okay if you are skeptical.  We were very skeptical going into this.  As most of you know, neither Liz nor I, are pushovers.  So, if this spokesperson did a classic corporate number on us, she is very good.  But we don’t think that’s what happened.

Background

On July 5th, 2017 we sent our Facebook contact a 51-page PDF filled with screencaps of deleted posts and banned women.  This contact also suggested a conference call for a few days later to discuss the bannings and all of the questions and concerns we have been raising at Listening 2 Lesbians.  In the interim, she worked through the list and women slowly started to see deleted posts reappear with apology, and bans end early.  In the meantime, she was also reading our articles and our response to Facebook Hard Questions, which she said had been read and discussed by multiple people at Facebook.  Basically, she came into the discussion with an understanding of what our concerns were and a desire to work with us to address these issues.  We believe she came to this discussion in good faith.  Immediately prior to our conversation we sent her an additional PDF with more screencaps.

How the Deletions and Bans Happen

Our discussion started with a clarification of how the Community Operations Team really works, the role of the new AI and what has been happening these past several weeks with regards to the word “dyke”.  To start, Facebook does not consider “dyke” a banned word, but admits that the content reviewers are making major mistakes with understanding the importance of the word “dyke” to the lesbian community and the proper context for its usage.

There are two ways a post is flagged: it is reported by another Facebook user, or it is flagged by the AI.  Either way, the spokesperson says an actual human being, the content reviewer, reviews the post and makes the decision on whether or not it violates community standards.  We asked about suspiciously quick deletions/bannings and questioned how a content reviewer could get to them so fast and she said she did not know and needs to examine specific instances to determine what happened.  We will continue to follow up on that.

Facebook is aware that users have been testing their system by just typing “dyke” or typing it over and over again.  While they understand our desire to do this, their spokesperson said these particular kinds of posts are too void of context for their reviewers.  They are not always able to tell if the word is directed AT someone, or a group, or if it is a positive pronouncement.  We had been thinking about this ahead of her mentioning it, and felt that this was a reasonable concern that we, as users, might consider going forward.  So, while Facebook is admitting that it has been struggling with how to continue the positive pro-dyke communications, we may want to reevaluate using it with absolutely no context at all.

What is Facebook Doing about It?

As Facebook has been getting more information from us they have been working on ways to fix the problem.  According to the spokesperson, her team has been examining the posts we send them, they have been gathering data and retraining content reviewers on how to appropriately evaluate the word “dyke” in a post.  They are also bringing in “subject matter experts” to specifically address the use of reclaimed words, not only in the lesbian community, but in other communities as well.  She also restated that Facebook is hiring 3000 more content reviewers to better handle the load.

We talked quite a bit about the new AI used to locate hate speech in user posts.  She told us that when the AI flags a post it is not deleted right away.  It is first sent to a content reviewer for evaluation.  Facebook is now saying that the AI is not ready to be used alone.  They are now looking at the issues being raised with their use of Protected and Unprotected Categories.  She said they are aware of the problems and are working on it.

What about the Petition?

We made three demands of Facebook in our petition and we feel that Facebook is now attempting to meet those demands.

  1. We are asking for everyone’s support in calling on Facebook to end their discriminatory practice of banning women for using the word “dyke” in a self-referential manner and/or as a positive expression of our culture.  We also reject the idea that we must use a hashtag in front of our identity in order to not get banned.  We demand they follow their own stated policy, and allow us to use our own word in order to avoid restricting our ability to express ourselves on Facebook.

The Facebook spokesperson has said they have not banned the word “dyke” and hold only the intention of targeting actual hate speech.  They are working to put policy into proper practice.

  1. We are also calling on Facebook to do an investigation into the practices of their Community Operations Team, the content reviewers responsible for answering reports, scanning user posts, and carrying out bans and deletions.  We demand that Facebook determine if any of their employees responsible for judging user content are showing a bias against women and lesbians.  We call on Facebook to terminate the employment of any individual that has intentionally targeted women and lesbians for their beliefs and/or because they hate women and lesbians.  We believe this investigation should also be conducted with regards to other minority groups as well.

According to our contact who works on the team responsible for investigating Community Operations Team practices and content policy issues, they are investigating what has happened, why so many mistakes were made and ways to fix those mistakes so they don’t happen again.  They are determining if any content reviewers need retraining and that retraining is already occurring.  She has asked us all to continue the dialog with her through this process and to continue to bring forward evidence of deletions and bans that should not have happened.

  1. Finally, we are calling on Facebook to fix their hate speech algorithms to recognize the importance of the word “dyke” in the lesbian culture and to strengthen their approach to recognizing and addressing actual hate speech against lesbians.  While we are just one minority group affected by these policies, we feel other minority groups are similarly affected.  We ask for your support in settling this dispute with Facebook.

According to the spokesperson, Facebook is aware of this ongoing issue and is working on the algorithms to find ways that do not punish minority groups that use reclaimed words.

Moving Forward

At this time, we believe Facebook is making efforts to rectify the dyke ban situation.  We believe that our contact engaged with us in good faith and is truly interested in working with us to improve policy and procedure at Facebook.  WE WILL REMAIN VIGILANT.  Listening 2 Lesbians will continue discussions with Facebook about issues the lesbian community encounters on their platform.  We will also try to foster new lines of communication between Facebook and the lesbian community who use their platform

At this time, we ask that women continue to send in a screen cap of posts they had deleted for the use of the word “dyke” along with their profile url.  Please send those to ari@listening2lesbians.com.  She will be sending those to Facebook regularly.  We also encourage all lesbians to research and find paths of communication with Facebook.  If requested, we will assist in this process as much as possible.

At this time, Listening 2 Lesbians believes we have received satisfactory answers to our demands.  We will continue to monitor the situation and we hope you do too.

We thank everyone for their support!  Petition signers, sharers, law experts, human rights advocates, journalists, agitators; you all helped make this happen!  We extend a special thank you to those that took extra steps to push this issue forward.  We could not have done any of this without all of you!

Dykes Rule!

Lisa & Liz
Listening 2 Lesbians

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Facebook: Stop Discriminating Against Lesbians-Petition Change.org

ChangePetition Image

Discrimination and violence against lesbians, because of our sexual orientation and because of our female bodies, is rampant in today’s world.  From no-platforming to corrective rape, to job discrimination, to murder, we are constantly aware of the silencing of our community and the attempts to control and harm our bodies, because we are lesbians.  Because of this, we have been deeply disturbed to learn that there has been a rash of post deletions and bans by Facebook for women that post status updates with the word “dyke” in their posts.   Many of us are on our second or third ban. Some of us got banned again and again, within mere minutes of logging back on for the first time after a recent ban had been lifted. We have had reports that these consecutive bans included posts that lesbians had posted on their own walls days to weeks in the past.

On June 27, 2017, Richard Allan, VP EMEA Public Policy at Facebook wrote:

“On other occasions, people may reclaim offensive terms that were used to attack them. When someone uses an offensive term in a self-referential way, it can feel very different from when the same term is used to attack them. For example, the use of the word “dyke” may be considered hate speech when directed as an attack on someone on the basis of the fact that they are gay. However, if someone posted a photo of themselves with #dyke, it would be allowed. Another example is the word “faggot.” This word could be considered hate speech when directed at a person, but, in Italy, among other places, “frocio” (“faggot”) is used by LGBT activists to denounce homophobia and reclaim the word. In these cases, removing the content would mean restricting someone’s ability to express themselves on Facebook.”

We are deeply concerned that lesbians and women showing support for our community, are being banned for expressing their love and respect for our culture.  We are also deeply concerned that women are being silenced when they express their views on what it means to be a dyke.  This is a conversation for lesbians only and should not be controlled or manipulated by anyone outside of our community.

We are asking for everyone’s support in calling on Facebook to end their discriminatory practice of banning women for using the word “dyke” in a self-referential manner and/or as a positive expression of our culture.  We also reject the idea that we must use a hashtag in front of our identity in order to not get banned.  We demand they follow their own stated policy, and allow us to use our own word in order to avoid restricting our ability to express ourselves on Facebook.

We are also calling on Facebook to do an investigation into the practices of their Community Operations Team, the content reviewers responsible for answering reports, scanning user posts, and carrying out bans and deletions.  We demand that Facebook determine if any of their employees responsible for judging user content are showing a bias against women and lesbians.  We call on Facebook to terminate the employment of any individual that has intentionally targeted women and lesbians for their beliefs and/or because they hate women and lesbians.  We believe this investigation should also be conducted with regards to other minority groups as well.

Finally, we are calling on Facebook to fix their hate speech algorithms to recognize the importance of the word “dyke” in the lesbian culture and to strengthen their approach to recognizing and addressing actual hate speech against lesbians.  While we are just one minority group affected by these policies, we feel other minority groups are similarly affected.  We ask for your support in settling this dispute with Facebook.

Thank you for your support!

This petition will be delivered to:

  • Hard Questions @ Facebook
  • Director of Global Policy Management, Facebook
    Monika Bickert
  • VP EMEA Public Policy, Facebook
    Richard Allan

ADD YOUR NAME TO THE PETITION Facebook: Stop Discriminating Against Lesbians-Petition Change.org

Facebook Hates Lesbians

http://www.epochalips.com/2010/10/lesbian-history-dyke-a-quarterly/

Dyke A Quarterly

How are we doing?

No, this isn’t a website questionnaire asking readers of Listening 2 Lesbians if we provide enough material, or a positive attitude, or if all of your questions and concerns are answered by us in a timely manner.

How are WE DYKES ON FACEBOOK doing?

I can ask that question, but I know for sure we are never going to get a 100% response.  Why? Because as I type this, dozens of us are serving our time in Facebook jail for daring to call ourselves DYKES.  Many of us are on our second or third ban.  Some of us got banned again and again, within mere minutes of logging back on for the first time after a recent ban had been lifted.  We have had reports that these consecutive bans included posts that lesbians had posted on their own walls days to weeks in the past.  Imagine that.  Facebook waited for women’s bans to end and then reached back through their wall history to find another post to punish them.

One woman had 12 minutes between the time she sent Facebook an email protesting the bans and logging back into her account, before she was banned for a post on her wall from several days previous.  Email, then ban. Weird timing that was.  While she was serving out her 24-hour ban she received another pop-up message telling her another 24-hours had been added to her current ban.  No explanation why.  Now, bans usually happen in a sequence of escalating bans: 24 hours to 3 days to 7 days to 30 days to permanent deletion of account.  How did she get two 24-hour bans, one of which was given DURING the first ban?  Weird.

http://keepcalmandwander.com/pride-toronto-dyke-march-2013/

A large number of us had posts deleted. Many of us received 24-hour bans. Many lesbians are still saying DYKE all over Facebook.  Many non-lesbians are saying dyke all over Facebook.  Listening 2 Lesbians is trying to post all of the ones we could get, but frankly, there are only 2 of us and there are too many examples pouring in.  We can’t keep up.  Also, frankly, I’m pissed.  Listening 2 Lesbians’ own Liz was one of those targeted with the consecutive bans and one of the posts that got deleted was a link to our own post!  And it wasn’t the content of the post that earned the delete.  It was the fact that when she copied and pasted the link onto her status, the word ‘dyke’ was in the URL address!  (We can only assume this is the case, because we have only had 1 other report of a post with our linked article being deleted and we can’t see the top of the screen cap where the URL would be.)

What gives, Facebook?!

Last week, Listening 2 Lesbians wrote an article describing what we saw as a ‘perfect storm’ affecting lesbians’ abilities to call ourselves and each other dykes.  We talked about the Community Operations Team; those thousands of content reviewers that review posts reported for violating community standards.  We talked about the Network of Support; a group of LGBT groups that consult with Facebook on hate speech.  We talked about Facebook’s Online Civil Courage Initiative, started in January 2016 by Germany to force Facebook to eliminate terrorist propaganda and hate speech.  On June 15, 2017, just a couple of weeks ago,  Facebook announced that this new initiative includes an AI (Artificial Intelligent) that trolls Facebook looking for hate speech, groups that talk a lot of hate speech and people that need to be stopped. We were told that these content reviewers (Community Operations Team employees) still looked at all those posts too, to make sure they were evaluated for content.  Supposedly, a human being always made the final decision, so when we wrote Facebook’s Hard Questions (as asked), we not only asked about the algorithms, we also asked about what kind of employees are reviewing our content.  What do they think about lesbians?  About women in general?  Are they actually monitored extensively as suggested, or could one (or more) go about banning whomever they don’t agree with?  We didn’t get a response.

A couple of days later we were contacted by a radio show in Australia to talk about the bans and ‘dyke’ identity.  We were told a Facebook representative was showing up to explain.  After hearing the issue, that spokesperson never showed up, instead telling the journalist they would get back to us all on that.  We haven’t heard anything back.  This is particularly disturbing because a Facebook spokesperson told NPR back in November 2016, “It’s OK to use racial slurs when being self-referential.”  So if racial slurs can be used by the community reclaiming the slur, why can’t we?

In another example of comedic timing, the very next day, ProPublica released an amazing article written by senior journalist Julia Angwin entitled, Facebook’s Secret Censorship Rules Protect White Men from Hate Speech But Not Black Children.  This is a mind-blowing look at the contents of internal documents revealing how Facebook’s algorithms work and how those content reviewers are trained to tell the difference between hate speech and political expression.  It looks an awful lot like that perfect storm we were telling you about.  WARNING: The results are not good.

Now that we are caught up, I want to discuss what the hell this ProPublica article is saying and how exactly do these algorithms and content reviewer rules apply to us dykes.  I’m going to say right now that I can’t see it.  Seriously.  In a little bit, I’m going to describe to you how Facebook says it works and then I’m going to use examples of posts that lesbians got banned for and ask you, our tech-savvy readers, to tell us what you think.  You may want some coffee first.

Oh, Facebook, What Have You Done?

So, after years of Facebook telling us how they rely only (then mostly, then heavily) on users to report posts that might violate community standards, ProPublica reveals that content reviewers “scour the social network deleting offensive speech.”  Bam! Finally, they said it.  So right away we know that overworked employees, with ethics, social beliefs and political beliefs we know nothing about, are looking for WE THE OFFENDING FACEBOOK USERS.  Good to finally know.  Also, we kind of already expected this, didn’t we?  But here is some more interesting stuff.  ProPublica reports:

“One document trains content reviewers on how to apply the company’s global hate speech algorithm. The slide identifies three groups: female drivers, black children and white men. It asks: Which group is protected from hate speech? The correct answer: white men.”

ProPublica - Who Facebook's Secret Censorship Rules Protect

What?! How can this be?

I’m going to try to be brief here, so if it’s too brief, please read the full article.  You should be reading it anyway.  Really.  There’s a slideshow!

Facebook’s algorithms have something called “Protected Categories” (PC) and it is only attacks against these Protected Categories that Facebook will stop.

PC= Sex, religious affiliation, national origin, gender identity, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, serious disability or disease.

Non-Protected Categories (NPC) = Social class, continental origin, appearance, age, occupation, political ideology, religions, countries.

If someone is two or more of these categories they are a subset.  A subset can be a PC or a NPC:

PC+PC=PC or;

PC+NPC=NPC

So, for the three examples that were given to Facebook employees, the resulting equations were as follows:

Female (PC) + Drivers (NPC) = NPC

Black (PC) + Children (NPC) = NPC

White (PC) + Men (PC) = PC

Do you want to cry now?

The last bit of information you need is what exactly an ‘attack’ is by Facebook standards.  Types of attacks are: calling for violence, calling for exclusion, calling for segregation, degrading generalization, dismissing, cursing, a slur.  So, your post will get deleted if you use one of these attacks against a PC.  The equation is:

Protected Category (PC) + Attack = Hate Speech

‘Dyke’ is a Slur

So before our Facebook spokesperson hid tail and ran from our radio interview, they told the journalist that Facebook considers ‘dyke’ a slur.  Fair enough.  It is true that when someone who is not a dyke attacks someone verbally with the word dyke, that person is using that word as a slur.  Now, those of us in Dyke Nation (and other minority groups), know that words that can be used to hurt us, are also able to be reclaimed.  And just like other groups that have found themselves on the receiving end of this abuse, lesbians have been reclaiming ‘dyke’ for decades.  Of course, there are lesbians that don’t want to be referred in this way, just like there are lesbians that don’t want to be referred to as ‘queer’.  That is understandable and we should all respect that, but lesbians have been reclaiming dyke from the oppressors for so long we have it on marches, book titles, social clubs, motorcycle clubs, sports teams, plays, blogs, stickers, t-shirts…we even have it trademarked in the U.S.A.!  Dyke is out there!  And we are damn proud of it!  As Liz said on The Informer:

“‘Dyke’ is quite a strong word. It has a strong, evocative feeling, and it’s been taken over by women for decades as a symbol of strength and pride and resistance. It really is, to me, a symbol of women taking up space, like Dykes on Bikes. Everybody loves Dykes on Bikes. It’s about noise, it’s about women unapologetically asserting their existence in the world. That’s not something we see lesbians being able to do very often so I think that dyke is quite significant because of its guttural nature, you know linguistically it’s quite strong, because of its social connotations. And it’s not even a word that some women we were thinking about too deeply when they were using it more recently, It’s just become part of how we talk about ourselves. So, from the personal to the political, it’s quite a strong and important word and to see it removed, to see our capacity to use it removed is very concerning. “

From http://artvoice.com/2016/05/26/gay-pride-week-bother/#.WVgafIiGOM9

According to our content reviewer training, a ‘slur’ is “a term that combines an attack with a PC, so;

Slur=Attack + PC AND

Slur = Attack

It’s both apparently, at the same time.  A slur is a noun and a verb, but unless we are drunkenly slurring our slurs, slur is not a verb.  SO, I’m guessing what they meant is just that content reviewers are hunting down that equation: PC + Slur = Hate Speech

(Side note: Also, according to the training slideshow, “Each market has a list of terms that have been labeled as slurs by the Content Policy Team.”  We don’t know what those markets are, or what slurs are on each market list, but isn’t that interesting?  You can use some slurs in one market and not in others.)

Facebook Thinks Dykes are Bad

Let’s look at some posts that are good examples of what lesbians are being banned for; that Facebook has said violate community standards.

“I love that there’s a band of dykes that plays at the local farmer’s market.  Like, how perfect is that??  It’s total perfect.”

We need to remember that Facebook is using ‘dyke’ as a slur, not as a category.  So our category is ‘a band’ and the attack is a slur attack called ‘dykes’.

A band of dykes = NPC

A band is not a protected category. Dyke is a slur.  But dykes are lesbians so dykes would have to also be considered a protected category too.  Doesn’t matter though because either way you get a result of;

NPC+Slur = Not Hate Speech

Hmmm. Next one:

“I LOVE DYKES!!!!”

I = PC or NPC, but, let’s say “I” is the protected category ‘lesbian’.

I (the lesbian) love dykes.

PC + Slur = Hate Speech

She really just said she loves herself in this example.  She attacked herself with love using a slur that also identifies who she is.  I’m just trying to figure out what the reviewers were thinking.

“When dyke marches were still for dykes.”
(With picture of very first Dyke March)

Here the category is dykes, but since dyke is considered a slur and not a category, what does the algorithm do?  Does it switch to say that dyke is the protected category, making it both protected and a slur?

PC + slur = Hate Speech

Help!

“Actual Dyke”

I need a mathematician…according to the equation, is there even a category in this statement?

“People need to quit rewriting history. Dykes do things. #visibilitymatters”
(With historical image of Storme DeLaverie, a lesbian)

Dykes do things.  The slur is a noun again and it’s doing things.  Things are NPC.

“Does self identifying as a DYKE get you banned on Facebook experiment.”
(It did)

This is just another version of “I am a dyke.”

“I” can be PC or NPC again, because technically she could have lied, so;

PC+Slur = Hate Speech

NPC+Slur = Not Hate Speech

The reviewers would have had to assume she was telling the truth.

“Dyke dyke dyke dykety dyke dyke dyke!!”

LOL! I really do love dykes!

I’m sure there are smarties out there that are going to figure this out, but can you imagine what it’s like for content reviewers who are like most of us with average logic and math skills?  Human beings that have 10 seconds to figure out this equation?  It just seems totally arcane and it makes me think that there are other separate rules out there for dykes.  If just the word alone could get you banned, then wouldn’t those content reviewers scouring Facebook have a treasure-trove of dyke posts to choose from?

Is that the ultimate goal?  To find all of our posts and punish us?  What is the end-game here?

What Now?

Angwin explains in her article that Facebook does not follow American law, “which permits preferences such as affirmative action for racial minorities and women for the sake of diversity or redressing discrimination.”  Basically, Facebook has designed it’s algorithm to defend everyone equally (not with equity).  Danielle Citron, a law professor and expert on information privacy at the University of Maryland, tells Angwin, that the result of this approach will “protect the people who least need it and take it away from those who really need it.”

This sounds really familiar.  One lesbian reported referencing herself as a dyke and she was reported and her post deleted.  She was then called a ‘cunt’ for using the word and when she reported the attack, Facebook said it did not violate their community standards.  So dyke is a slur, but cunt is not.  Facebook also sent dykes a “We’re Glad You’re Here Video” in which Facebook picked images from user profiles for a “book” appreciating us as users.  Guess what?  That video included images of posts that lesbians had been, or could be banned for!  There was a great risk taken once you hit the publish button.  Don’t we call that entrapment?

I’m left with way more questions than answers for the dyke community.  Facebook is all over the place with how it is allowing content reviewers and algorithms to work on its lesbian users.  It is plainly obvious that some people are being targeted over and over again and it is hard to say how this is actually happening when content reviewers are supposed to be so well-trained and algorithms so perfectly designed to protect everyone.  It really does look like discrimination and it’s obvious that no one at Facebook is protecting dykes, that’s for sure.  And it is most certainly not Facebook’s place to tell the lesbian community that identifying as dykes is wrong.  Dyke is our word.

Facebook, start going after the people that want to kill us.  The ones that want to rape us and hurt us.  The ones that are calling on all their friends to report us in mass reportings just because they hate us and can use Facebook’s flawed censorship machine to kick us off the platform.  Start actually looking for employees that have a suspiciously high number of bans and deletions against lesbians.  Stop over-reacting to the call from European countries to punish hate speech.

We lesbians, we DYKES, love ourselves.  It’s not hate speech when we say it, it is love speech.  And we are not going to be silenced by your hate.

Author’s Note:

On June 27, 2017, Facebook’s Hard questions said this in a statement on how it monitors hate speech:

“On other occasions, people may reclaim offensive terms that were used to attack them. When someone uses an offensive term in a self-referential way, it can feel very different from when the same term is used to attack them. For example, the use of the word “dyke” may be considered hate speech when directed as an attack on someone on the basis of the fact that they are gay. However, if someone posted a photo of themselves with #dyke, it would be allowed. Another example is the word “faggot.” This word could be considered hate speech when directed at a person, but, in Italy, among other places, “frocio” (“faggot”) is used by LGBT activists to denounce homophobia and reclaim the word. In these cases, removing the content would mean restricting someone’s ability to express themselves on Facebook.”

Facebook: We are NOT a hashtag!

We are a CULTURE.

We are a COMMUNITY.

We are a SISTERHOOD.

We are a MINORITY.

We are a FAMILY.

We are DYKES.

REJECT Facebook’s rule that we must hashtag our IDENTITY to stay on their platform.  This is DISCRIMINATION.

We have referenced all images in this article, however, if you see an image you own and you would like us to remove it, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Dyke Tear Drop

Dykes on Bikes Queensland & Listening 2 Lesbians Take on Facebook Dyke Bans on The Informer-JOY 94.9 Melbourne

The Infomer FB

Is ‘dyke’ a dirty word? Facebook seems to think so and keeps banning lesbians from using it, including Dykes On Bikes Queensland & Listening 2 Lesbians.  Listen to Listening 2 Lesbians’ own Liz Waterhouse discuss Dyke is a Dirty Word. (START AT 09:35)

***Facebook was supposed to show up for the conversation, but told Shannon Power “We’ll get back to you on that”***

TRANSCRIPT:

Participants:
Shannon Power, “The Informer”, Joy FM (SP)
Jules Raven, Dykes on Bikes Queensland (JR)
Liz Waterhouse, Listening2Lesbian.com (LW)

 

<sounds of cheering and motorbikes>

SP: That’s the sound that almost anyone who has been to an LGBTI pride march has heard. It’s the distinct tones of the Dykes on Bikes opening this year’s Sydney gay and lesbian Mardi Gras. Every year the Dykes on Bikes have the honour of opening Pride parades to crowds of excited onlookers. Dykes on bikes are an international lesbian motorcycle club with chapters worldwide but a number of those chapters are at war with social networking site Facebook about whether or not dyke is a dirty word.

Jules Raven heads up Dykes on Bikes Queensland.

Jules thanks so much for joining us. Now I’ve noticed that the Dykes on Bikes Queensland chapter has some interesting spelling on its Facebook page. There’s a space between the D Y and the K E S of Dykes. What’s going on there?

 

JR: about five years ago we originally set the page up with the official Dykes on Bikes Queensland all spelled correctly and looking lovely and probably about four years ago I woke up to an email from Facebook and they had actually removed our name completely. So we originally changed it to, we were only able to get Dyes on Bikes so we had D Y E S and then probably about six months ago after further investigation we were able to put the D K and then the space and then Y E S so it’s been a bit of a battle between us and Facebook. They haven’t given us a reason as to why other than the fact that they felt that it was offensive.

SP: so when you spell dykes the correct way what happens?

JR: it just comes up saying this is offensive and unacceptable for Facebook.

SP: and so you’ve been trying for 4 years and you’ve never had a real reason from Facebook other than the word is offensive?

JR: we’ve never had any contact from Facebook.

SP: right

JR: other than an automated email coming back to us from all of their contact points. I actually got to the point where I wrote them a letter and posted it to their headquarters in silicon valley and we still had no response.

SP: Yeah right, okay

JR: it’s been very frustrating.

SP: yeah so I mean for yourselves Dykes on Bikes we all know in this community and out side of the community. Is this a big deal? Why is it important to have your name spelt correctly on a Facebook page?

JR: it’s a huge deal given that Dykes on Bikes is actually a big international group. Now back in about the 80s, early 90s, the San Francisco club, because it was quite popular, had a bloke came around and started trying to sell T-shirts that had Dykes on Bikes written on it so the American chapters thought they’d better trademark that name. Now what happened from there is to trade mark it they put the trademark application form in and it was rejected because the name dykes was offensive. So they actually fought in the High Court in America and went all the way to the Supreme Court in the USA and won that case. So it’s a bit ironic that an American company of Facebook is the company that’s not allowing us to use that particular word and that name. That’s why we’re fighting for it. That’s why we want to get it right, to be on Facebook. It’s quite stunning to think that a group that has a trademark within their own country is not able to use the name. It’s been very disappointing.

SP: yeah

JR: if we didn’t need to use Facebook we wouldn’t but obviously it’s such a big media hub for us it’s worth us trying to fight and trying to make it right not just for our group but for any other gay and lesbian groups that want to put their own stamp on it and trans groups. We need to be able to, within reason, I do understand that there has to be some barriers but within reason I think you know them not allowing us to use it because they find it offensive isn’t really an excuse any more.

SP: Liz Waterhouse runs the listening2lesbians blog with her partner lisa mallett. They’ve both noticed an increase in censorship of queer women using the word Dyke on Facebook. Liz has been banned, and is in fact currently banned, from using Facebook over her use of the word Dyke.

LW: Women being banned for saying I love dykes, for saying that they are going for a walk with friends who are Dykes, for talking about lesbians politically, socially, just you know really casually we just see post after post being removed, We see woman after woman being banned and it’s a very concerning pattern because for centuries lesbians have been silenced, and erased, and discriminated against and harassed and you know subject to corrective rape and death and we see that around the world still. At listening to lesbians we blog about women’s experiences of discrimination and harassment around the world. We use Facebook to reach out to women around the world, we’ve got a following in you know Africa talking about you know the experiences of African lesbians because of this platform and it’s very concerning that what we are seeing is something which is going to stop us being able to reach those women.

SP: liz and lisa have published numerous posts on the issue on their blog and have reached out to Facebook multiple times for guidance on why people that post the word dyke keep getting into trouble while other hate speech slips through the cracks. Liz explains to The informer why it is so important for persecuted communities to reclaim language that was historically used against them as a slur.

LW: it sounds like it’s just about a word and what can it possibly matter and just stop saying it but either we end up being self censoring, and I was self censoring when I got reported and removed the last time actually. I’d stopped using the word dyke which upset me but I was still reported and removed because it was in the link in my comments, I could see it. But more than just a sort of a social thing and isn’t it a first world problem, which is a question I’ve had, it’s actually something which is going to inhibit us reaching out and forming community around the world, and it’s going to stop us being able to collate information about our collective experiences. And if we can’t collect our experiences together and see a picture, we can’t agitate for change.

SP: the word was once used against them. Can you tell me why dyke is such an important word in terms of reclamation?

LW: so a lot of people have words to reclaim, the word dyke, like in other groups the slurs that are used against us. Some of them are able to be reclaimed, some I’m not so sure about. Dyke is quite a strong word. It has a strong, evocative feeling, and it’s been taken over by women for you know decades as a symbol of strength and pride and resistance. It really is to me a symbol of women taking up space, like Dykes on Bikes. Everybody loves Dykes on Bikes. It’s about noise, it’s about women unapologetically asserting their existence in the world. That’s not something we see lesbians being able to do very often so I think that dyke is quite significant because of its guttural nature, you know linguistically it’s quite strong, because of its social connotations. And it’s not even a word that some women we were thinking about too deeply when they were using it more recently, It’s just become part of how we talk about ourselves. So, from the personal to the political, it’s quite a strong and important word and to see it removed, to see our capacity to use it removed is very concerning.

SP: the informer reached out to Facebook who did get back to us and let us know that they’re doing a preliminary investigation into the particular cases brought up by the Dykes on bikes Queensland and Liz and Lisa from listening to lesbians blog. They’ve told us early on that dyke is considered a slur word and they do need to take into consideration their audience of 2 billion people but will continue looking into the matter and will get back to The Informer at a later date, so we look forward to having Facebook come back on joy to let us know exactly why they think dyke is a dirty word.

 

Listening 2 Lesbians Asks Facebook the Hard Questions About “Dyke” Bans

Banned Dykes

From: Listening 2 Lesbians

To: Facebook Press and Hard Questions at Facebook (hardquestions@fb.com, press@fb.com)

Dear Facebook Press:

Listening 2 Lesbians is a blog with a mission to report on discrimination and violence against lesbians.  You may not be aware, but discrimination and violence against lesbians, because of our sexual orientation and because of our female bodies, is rampant in today’s world.  From no-platforming to corrective rape, to job discrimination, to murder, we are constantly aware of the silencing of our community and the attempts to control and harm our bodies because we are lesbians.  Because of this, we have been deeply disturbed to learn that there have been a rash of post deletions and bans by your company for women that post status updates with the word “dyke” in their posts.

Perhaps you are not aware of the history of the word “dyke”, or of lesbian culture, or of the act of reclaiming slurs from the oppressor to be used as acts of self-empowerment and identity by minorities.  Dyke has been and can be used as a derogatory term (hate speech) to attack same-sex attracted females.  We hope at Facebook you acknowledge that all such speech should be banned from public spaces.  However, dyke is also a word that has been reclaimed by the lesbian community to represent our lesbian pride, sisterhood and power as female loving females.

We are deeply disturbed that lesbians and women showing support for our community, are being banned for expressing their love and respect for our culture.  We are also deeply disturbed that women are being silenced when they express their views on what it means to be a dyke.  This is a conversation for lesbians only and should not be controlled or manipulated by anyone outside of our community.

Here are examples of posts that have been deleted and women who have been banned for using the word dyke in a post.  Be aware that we are not convinced you will accept emails with images attached, so we will simply quote the text.  Please read our blog, Facebook Has a Problem With Dykes, at https://listening2lesbians.com/2017/06/24/facebook-has-a-problem-with-dykes/ for full images and information on the situation.

Quotes from women that were deleted by Facebook and/or caused the woman to be blocked/banned:

“I love that there’s a band of dykes that plays at the local farmer’s market.  Like, how perfect is that??  It’s total perfect.”

“I LOVE DYKES!!!!”

“Only lesbians are dykes.  Only females can be lesbians.  We are still here.”

“When dyke marches were still for dykes.” (With historical image of a dyke march)

 “People need to quit rewriting history. Dykes do things. #visibilitymatters” (With historical image of Storme DeLaverie, the lesbian who started the Stonewall riots.)

“Does self identifying as a DYKE get you banned on Facebook experiment.” (It did)

Again, this is just a small set of examples.  Please visit our blog for more information.

In an NPR article entitled, From Hate Speech To Fake News: The Content Crisis Facing Mark Zuckerberg, a spokesperson for your company told NPR:

“It’s OK to use racial slurs when being self-referential. A black person can say things like “my niggers.” But no one can use a slur to attack an individual or group. That’s prohibited. A white person cannot use the word “nigger” to mock or attack blacks. Blacks can’t use “crakkker” (in whatever spelling) to offend whites.” (http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2016/11/17/495827410/from-hate-speech-to-fake-news-the-content-crisis-facing-mark-zuckerberg)

Clearly, there has been at the very least, a misuse of the Community Standards at Facebook, and at worse, a misuse of power and position by Facebook employees.  This is why we have some hard questions for management at Facebook:

  1. If a Community Operations Team employee is responsible for banning and deleting all reported posts, can FB monitor if an employee, or group of employees is showing political or social biases in their decision making? For example, is it possible for an employee to get away with targeting a select group of people for deletion or banning, even if their posts don’t violate Community Standard?
  2. What groups or organizations are influencing the content and wording of Community Standards? Have they demonstrated lesbophobic and/or misogynistic language or tendencies?
  3. It appears as if certain women who are part of certain Facebook groups have been targeted more than others. Is the new AI you are using to fight terrorism and hate-speech (The Online Civil Courage Initiative) also capturing feminist and lesbian-only groups in its net and considering them a cluster?
  4. If the new AI that you are using has algorithms that can understand context, and you are using this AI on Facebook users in lesbian and women’s communities, why is it unable to differentiate between a pro-lesbian dyke post and a post where dyke is being used as hate speech?
  5. If all AI flagged posts are also seen and evaluated by a Community Operations Team employee, why are they also not able to read context?
  6. Will Facebook investigate the issues we have brought forth to you today?
  7. If you find that an individual employee, or group of employees, has been abusing their position at Facebook to target and silence lesbians and other women they do not agree with, will Facebook tell the communities affected and issue a public apology?

Thank you for your time.

Liz & Lisa

Listening 2 Lesbians

www.listening2lesbians.com

Chicago Dyke March tells lesbians to stay away if they don’t like dick

dyke-march-2017dyke-march-1

The homophobic “queer” community doesn’t think that lesbians belong at a Dyke March.

Continue reading at: https://purplesagefem.wordpress.com/2017/06/15/happy-pride/Purple Sage | Lesbian, feminist, gender abolitionist. (Source)

Come Out! Dyke Pride, Separatism, and My Story

WOMAN WALKING AWAY
roots rocks and revolution

Continue watching more of Woman Walking Away at: https://womanwalkingaway.com/ (Source)