Facebook Silenced Me For 24 Hours – Rafaella Gunz
On Friday, December 18th, 2015 an article I wrote exposing the harassment women receive in Facebook STI communities was published on Guerrilla Feminism.
While many women appreciated my article and even thanked me for writing it, I received massive backlash from others in the online herpes community—mostly fellow women. These women were upset that the name of a certain unsearchable support group was published, claiming they feared for their security and protection. Yet, some of the people opposed to my article spoke of trying to find my personal information, such as my home address. In my mind, all their concerns about safety are null and void, especially after seeing that.
These people found it necessary to report comments I posted to defend myself from this harsh criticism, thus resulting in Facebook banning me from posting, commenting, responding to messages, and even ‘liking’ things for 24 hours. I was given no explanation as to what I did or said “violated Facebook’s community standards.”
What’s ironic is, countless times when I have reported sexist, racist, or homo/transphobic content to Facebook, they never found those posts or pages in violation of their standards.
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This is all very reminiscent of what happened to Clementine Ford, who was banned from Facebook for a month because she spoke her mind and published the vile, hateful messages she received in her inbox. Granted, Ford is extremely problematic, but the fact of the matter is: women who are outspoken, who are feminists, end up getting banned in these situations; not the people harassing these women.
Why is it that women are being silenced for speaking up about harassment, but Facebook allows the harassment itself to continue? This simply isn’t right.
Since my Facebook ban, I received many lovely messages that I cannot yet reply to. Thank you for your words of support and encouragement, and I will definitely be responding to each and every one of you as soon as this ban is lifted.
I also want to say that this fallout in no way affects my feminist convictions, or my belief that I did the right thing by publicly naming a so-called support group that simply doesn’t care about the rampant harassment which goes on. It is important that groups like this be identified, as censoring the name just allows the harassment to continue without consequence.
The groups which allow this harassment, such as the one I outed, just show that these communities can turn into a microcosm of the real world—a world where violence and provocation of women in the norm. Though some may say that there are women who send flirty and suggestive messages to men as well, it doesn’t hold the same weight in this patriarchal society. It is imperative that we don’t allow groups where those who are stigmatized due to having an STI come to get support to mimic the hate and disrespect many already have to put up with “irl.”
Rafaella Gunz is a senior at The New School in NYC, majoring in journalism and minoring in gender studies. She has a passion for feminism and LGBTQ+ issues.