Facebook, whose legendary misogyny means that breast-feeding images posted by mothers are considered taboo and pulled as soon as they’re noticed, has managed to lurch into action and take down a race-hate page in Australia after a storm erupted on Twitter.
The page, which was called Aboriginal Memes, offered up a string of juvenile insults masquerading as humorous captions about alcoholism and petrol-sniffing pasted over images of Aborigines.
The race-hate site became the subject of a vigorous debate among Australian Twitter users after Crikey writer Bernard Keane observed that people liking the page included an un-named employee of State government agency Consumer Affairs Victoria.
Facebook had reportedly responded to complaints about the page with a boilerplate that it had been unable to confirm whether the page violated its “Statement of Rights and Responsibilities”.
The page lasted long enough to attract mainstream media attention, with SBS asserting that the page had been active – and has attracted complaints – since June. SBS stated that the page appeared to be maintained by a 16-year-old in Perth.
The unwanted attention finally spurred The Social NetworkTM to act, however, and by 9.30pm last night (August 7, Sydney time) the site had been deleted.
Update: Vulture Eats Crow - When The Register posted this story just after 8:00AM Sydney time, two individuals including the author confirmed that the page was not responding. Well: it's back, much to the author's chagrin. It appears that The Register was deceived by an outage into believing that Facebook had done the right thing, when in fact it is still behaving pretty as it always has.
In the meantime, communications minister Senator Stephen Conroy has joined the chorus of critics, Change.org has launched a petition against the Facebook site, and various outlets are reporting that the page is self-classified as "comedy" to evade being classified as "race hate".
While The Register is not in favour of government censorship, the question doesn't arise in this case: Facebook users are subject to terms and conditions that exclude hate speech. It's regrettable that Facebook doesn't seem to agree. ®
Update: The "Aboriginal Memes" page is missing again, even to a logged-in Facebook user, at 8.20pm on August 8. After my last experience, I'm loth to declare the site "deleted", but we can hope. ®