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This Woman Wants To Quit Facebook After It Banned Her But Not Her Abusers

Facebook says it provides a number of tools to help users avoid harassment. Warning: graphic content.

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Thousands of people are sharing this screenshot after a prominent Australian writer was suspended from Facebook for publicly sharing abusive messages she was sent by men.


Australian feminist writer Clementine Ford was temporarily banned from Facebook last week.

Australian writer Clementine Ford.
Christine Pobke / Clementine Ford / Facebook

Australian writer Clementine Ford.

After she posted a nude selfie to protest victim blaming, Ford received a torrent of messages and comments, including requests for more nude pictures, graphic threats of violence, sexist abuse, and sexually suggestive comments.

Ford took screenshots of the messages she was sent and posted them publicly. By doing this, she was deemed to have violated Facebook's community standards and was handed a 30-day ban. Ford wrote on Facebook that the ban was so long because it was the fourth time she had been banned for similar activity.

Partly due to Ford's large online following, her ban sparked a public outcry and her account was reinstated within a day.

Facebook has just banned me for 30 days for 'violating community standards' by reposting some of those abusive messages men have sent to me.

FINALLY. Thank you once again, to everyone. You are magic xx

However, the incident led many people to express their displeasure with Facebook's policy, with many saying the social network displayed double standards.

In response to a question about how community standards violations are determined, Facebook directed BuzzFeed News to this blog post by Head of Policy Monika Bickert.

"It's a challenge to maintain one set of standards that meets the needs of a diverse global community," wrote Bickert.

"For one thing, people from different backgrounds may have different ideas about what's appropriate to share — a video posted as a joke by one person might be upsetting to someone else, but it may not violate our standards."

According to Bickert, Facebook constantly evaluated their policies around hate speech, and regularly spoke to governments, community members, academics, and experts from around the world.

"We know that our policies won't perfectly address every piece of content, especially where we have limited context, but we evaluate reported content seriously and do our best to get it right."

Thousands of people across social media shared this screenshot – sent to Ford by a follower on her page – to express their anger with Facebook's community standards.

Hey @facebook If this doesn't violate community standards, what community do you stand for? @clementine_ford

How does this not breach #Facebook community standards but exposing it gets @clementine_ford banned? It's Hate Speech

A spokesperson for Facebook told BuzzFeed News they provide a number of page moderation tools to combat the kinds of messages and comments Ford received.

"We give page owners a wide range of tools to proactively moderate and control who contacts them. Page owners can set profanity filters, control who messages their page through the Privacy Settings, delete comments and block people who send unwanted messages," the spokesperson said.

Facebook also pointed to their real name policy and reporting tools throughout the site as ways to combat harassment.

In response, Ford said the tools provided by Facebook are insufficient when dealing with thousands of comments.

"Why is the onus on Facebook users to manage the abuse they receive? I think this is a convenient way for Facebook to avoid dealing with the very real problem of online harassment and misogyny within the Facebook fold," she told BuzzFeed News.

"Women will have breastfeeding photographs removed for violating standards, but it's OK to tell a woman to sit on a butcher's knife so they can't reproduce? Facebook has no clue."

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Facebook told BuzzFeed News that temporary blocks are intended to be educational, rather than punishing.

"Our temporary blocks are not intended to punish people who have broken the rules, but to put them in a 'time out' phase during which they are provided with educational materials that explain how to use Facebook in compliance with our community standards and statement of rights and responsibilities," a spokesperson told BuzzFeed News.

"These blocks are put into place to help people better understand our policies and help prevent further misunderstanding of our community standards by our users. We worked with Clementine to restore her accounts and advised how best to manage her account. We are also actively investigating the possible harassment."

Ford said she had received nothing directly from Facebook. "I don't know what their idea of being advised of the 'best ways' to manage accounts and avoid harassment are, but it seems to be 'just sit back and ignore it'," she said.

Ford also said she had received "very little assistance" from Facebook in terms of them taking comment complaints seriously.

"I plan to continue to expose these abusive messages, but do them through third-party links," Ford said. "Eventually, when someone creates a better service that actually cares about its users, I'll leave Facebook and use that instead."