As of today, Facebook officially no longer allows the pages "Violently Raping Your Friend Just for Laughs" and "Kicking your Girlfriend in the Fanny because she won't make you a Sandwich" to exist on its social network, and — what do you know? — it only took a well publicized media campaign and angry advertisers to do it. In a message to its users, Facebook has outlined a new policy for dealing with violent and hateful speech to better deal with — though, not outright ban — this kind of "distasteful humor," which, of course, begs the question: How come Facebook wasn't doing anything about this in the first place? Here are three explanations:
Free Speech: Like so many online platforms (ahem, Reddit), Facebook's previous policy allowed its users to bend free speech into an excuse for sexism. The social network doesn't explicitly ban "offensive" or "controversial" content because that would violate its users rights, in a way. "We work hard to remove hate speech quickly, however there are instances of offensive content, including distasteful humor, that are not hate speech according to our definition," explains Facebook's company message, in the form of a Facebook Note. But this is the same Internet that resulted in a photo of Rihanna's bloodied face with the caption "Chris Brown's Greatest Hits" — and a picture of a man holding a rag over a woman's mouth that read: "Does this smell like chloroform to you?"