NEW YORK – The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has announced that Facebook has put new measures in place to respond more quickly to hateful comments posted to a memorial page dedicated to those lost to anti-gay bullying.
GLAAD was alerted to a string of hateful comments posted to a Facebook event page which memorializes young people who have lost their lives to anti-gay bullying. The page also asks that its supporters wear purple on October 20 in honor of those "who committed suicide in recent weeks/months due to homophobic abuse." That page now has over half a million supporters.
Over 1,800 emails were sent to GLAAD calling for Facebook to monitor the content or remove the page altogether. Because the event page is currently functioning as a community memorial with an outpouring of support for the families of those teens as well as youth who might be facing similar anti-gay bullying, GLAAD’s digital team continued to work with Facebook and call for a solution.
"This violent, hateful speech has no place in our media–whether it in print, on the airwaves or online," said GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios. "Facebook has taken an important first step in making social media a place where anti-gay violence is not allowed. Our community needs to continue to be vigilant and report instances of hateful comments and images across the site to Facebook moderators as well as post messages of support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth."
GLAAD called on members to continue to monitor and use Facebook reporting methods for this and other pages as well as to post messages of support to the event page.
"Educating people about the lasting and damaging impacts of ignorant and hateful comments is a responsibility shared by parents, educators, organizations like GLAAD, and services like Facebook," said Facebook spokesperson Andrew Noyes. "We take our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities very seriously and react quickly to reports of inappropriate content and behavior. The goal of these policies is to strike a very delicate balance between giving people the freedom to express their opinions and viewpoints–even those that may be controversial to some–and maintaining a safe and trusted environment. We have policies that prohibit hateful content and we have built a robust reporting infrastructure and an expansive team to review reports and remove content quickly. In addition to responding to reports, we have automated systems that use a number of factors to flag content that might violate our policies, so we can review and take it down as quickly as possible and before it’s reported."
Facebook intends to work closely with GLAAD and other LGBT organizations on future initiatives.