Facebook Says The Phrase 'Men Are Trash' Is Hate Speech, And It's Bullsh*t

by Sa'iyda Shabazz
Originally Published: 
Courtesy of Kristy K. / Saige P.

“Why are men such trash?” My best friend and I have asked each other this question on numerous occasions.

I’ve considered posing the question on my social media, but I don’t need people sliding into the comments with all of their #NotAllMen bullshit.

But for those who do feel the need to proclaim that “men are trash” on their Facebook, there could be consequences. I’m not just talking about a million “nice guys” commenting about how they’re not trash, or women who are suffering from a case of internalized misogyny sticking up for all the men they don’t even know, but Facebook may actually put your account on lockdown for saying such things.

Yes, you read that correctly. Facebook is placing people who say “men are trash” on suspension. Because apparently you need a time-out for speaking too much truth. Facebook will treat you like you’re a toddler who just kicked your mother in the shins.

So what exactly is the deal here? Why are people (because it’s not just women who are making the statement or sharing the sentiment) being punished by the Facebook police? Well, the answer is simple, but the reasoning is not.

According to a piece by Gizmodo, Facebook claims that the phrase “men are trash” is hate speech. Seriously. That’s what they said.

According to Facebook, this is what they consider hate speech: “content that directly attacks people based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender, or gender identity, or serious disabilities or diseases.” Okay, let’s just play along with this for a sec, shall we?

Saying men are trash is a bit of a gray area. From the surface, sure, it looks like you’re simply calling men trash because they’re men. But let’s peel back a couple layers for shits and giggles. The reasons that men could be considered trash are in the millions. But most of it stems from toxic masculinity, male privilege, and upholding archaic patriarchal ideations. So men aren’t trash simply because they’re men, but because of all of the trappings of what being male often includes.

But how is Facebook finding out about these posts and comments? I’m so glad you asked.

People are reporting them, of course. Why? Well, it all stems from that whole #NotAllMen nonsense. Some men may see the statement and start feeling some type of way about it. So then they throw a hissy fit and report the post as “hate speech.” Facebook sees it, sees that it’s “directly attacking a gender,” and removes the post. Sometimes they may even block the offender from using Facebook. The ban time ranges from 24 hours to a week.

The #NotAllMen brigade who are doing this reporting need to sit down already. More often than not, the people who take issue with the phrase are the ones it’s most directed at. Obviously.

I was curious about the validity of this claim, so I reached out to a group on Facebook that I’m a member of where I recalled seeing posts about “men are trash.” Upon posing the question to the group, I was immediately warned to amend my post. Instead of typing “men are trash,” it was recommended to me to somehow alter the phrase so that I wouldn’t get “Zucc’ed” (a term referring to Mark Zuckerberg, that was coined to explain what happens when your post or account is retaliated against by Facebook) and have the post removed.

After that, I was inundated by comments and messages from people who had this exact thing happen to them. I was surprised, but glad that the claim was so heavily supported. One woman named Kristy reached out to me and explained that she had a post removed; however, “at no stage did I actually say that I think men are trash.” Her post was removed for merely implying that those who take issue with the statement need to examine why the statement was made in the first place.

One of the biggest problems with this, aside from people getting locked out of their accounts, is how arbitrary Facebook is about what they consider “hate speech.” Their community standards spell out what they are using as a guideline for hate speech quite clearly. But if you ask anyone who has ever reported a post or a group for hate speech, what they actually allow is often in direct violation of their own definitions of hate speech.

In many of the stories, I’ve been told regarding this subject, and from what I’ve experienced personally, Facebook may deem an inappropriate meme, joke, or group inoffensive and allow it to stand — even if it blatantly violates their community standards. They’ll give you the option to block the content, but it’s still being circulated on Facebook for everyone else to view.

Let me provide a “for instance” to further illustrate the hypocrisy of Facebook’s hate speech standards: I have seen memes shared in other Facebook groups that are blatantly racist and sexist, and nothing has done about them. I happened upon a group on Facebook called “Black Lives Fatter” that was chock full of racist and fatphobic content. Full. I mean, the whole point of the group was to mock and shame black people.

Naturally, I reported that shit immediately. Not just a random post or comment, but the entire page. It was nothing but hate speech. Facebook responded, saying that the page itself doesn’t violate their community standards (!!!), but if there was a specific post that I felt did, I was welcome to report that. What the actual fuck? Every single thing on that page violated the standards of every decent human being on the planet and the standards Facebook created for removing “hate speech.”

This article from ProPublica outlines many of the problems with Facebook’s hate speech algorithm, but most unsurprising is that white men are meant to be protected first. Their delicate feelings must be protected at all times. Females? Black people? Children? Pshh, they’re fair game. Thanks so much, Facebook.

Here’s the bottom line: Saying “men are trash” isn’t hate speech, no matter how much someone may want to spin it as such. Hate speech is making disparaging remarks about a marginalized group of people. There is nowhere in the world where men as a gender are considered marginalized, even if some of their intersections (POC men, for example) are marginalized. By enforcing this definition of hate speech when it comes to men, but not when it comes to women, or even more specifically, women of color, Facebook is making it clear where their allegiances are.

They are silencing women, and POC, at the whim of white fragility. And frankly, it’s really shitty of them, and one would hope that being a company that supports progressive ideals, they would work to remedy this situation ASAFP.

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