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!
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