Popular Site Aims To Set ‘Blueprint’ For Fighting Online Misogyny

By: Chris Crum - August 28, 2014

Last week, Drew Curtis, CEO of the popular news aggregation site Fark, announced that the site is cracking down on misogyny in comment threads.

Do you think popular websites do enough to keep misogynistic comments away from users? Share your thoughts in the comments.

As you probably know (especially if you’re a woman), there are a lot of terrible people saying terrible things about women on the Internet, and much of it goes unchecked. Curtis decided that he’d had enough of this happening on his site, and expressed regret about not coming down harder on it sooner.

Curtis tells WebProNews that Fark is “working on a blueprint for others to follow.”

“Every community should consider doing this,” he says.

Curtis said in his announcement that Fark has been tightening up moderation style related to this stuff for a while, but last week, they updated the official rules. He noted that the move represented “enough of a departure from pretty much how every other large internet community operates.”

Here’s an excerpt from the announcement:

There are lots of examples of highly misogynistic language in pop culture, and Fark has used those plenty over the years. From SNL’s “Jane, you ignorant slut” to Blazing Saddles’ multiple casual references to rape, there are a lot of instances where views are made extreme to parody them. On Fark, we have a tendency to use pop culture references as a type of referential shorthand with one another.

On SNL and in a comedy movie, though, the context is clear. On the Internet, it’s impossible to know the difference between a person with hateful views and a person lampooning hateful views to make a point. The mods try to be reasonable, and context often matters. We will try and determine what you meant, but that’s not always a pass. If your post can be taken one of two ways, and one of those ways can be interpreted as misogynistic, the mods may delete it — even if that wasn’t your intent.

Things that aren’t acceptable:

– Rape jokes
– Calling women as a group “whores” or “sluts” or similar demeaning terminology
– Jokes suggesting that a woman who suffered a crime was somehow asking for it

Obviously, these are just a few examples and shouldn’t be taken as the full gospel, but to give you a few examples of what will always be over the line. Trying to anticipate every situation and every conversation in every thread would be ridiculous, so consider these guidelines and post accordingly. I recommend that when encountering grey areas, instead of trying to figure out where the actual line is, the best strategy would be to stay out of the grey area entirely.

Whenever a foot is put down on what can’t be included in Internet comment threads, there are inevitably some that cry, “Censorship!”

Curtis tells us, however, that so far the response has been “nothing but positive,” and that there has been no uptick in commenters testing Fark’s new policy.

“It’s been surprisingly smooth,” he says.

As a story at Vice recently put it, Fark banning misogyny actually “facilitates free speech,” because it means women can be more comfortable expressing their thoughts without worrying about the dregs of the Internet threatening to rape them or otherwise harass them.

Fark’s move could indeed provide inspiration for other online environments to take similar action, and that’s one of the reasons the site has gotten some national news coverage for it.

Gawker also recently cracked down on users posting “rape GIFs” on its Jezebel site, though only after Jezebel called out the company itself in a blog post. This story also put the spotlight on the Internet’s rampant misogyny.

These moves from Fark and Gawker aren’t going to solve the whole problem, but they’re certainly positive moves in a better direction. Any other sites inspired to follow suit will just serve as additional steps.

Do you think online misogyny can be largely stamped out? Let us know what you think.

Image via YouTube

About the Author

Chris CrumChris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.

View all posts by Chris Crum
  • JH

    another emasculated POS

    • Laura Crest

      Grow up, JH

      • JH

        Truth hurts?

  • whatever

    FARK’s move to ban jokes retold from movies like Blazing Saddles facilitates speech just like burning down that village helped facilitate saving the village. You’re probably too young, too ignorant, and too hip to recognize that reference. Ask an actual journalist about it.

    Drew Curtis is a huge hypocrite. If you don’t believe me, check out foobies.com, his soft core porn site. Curtis has made his money from rape jokes and soft core porn, and now wants to ban rape jokes, … but not the soft core porn. That he just moves out of FARK onto a different site.

    Shame on Drew. Shame on you.

  • Garison

    Banning misogyny does not “facilitate free speech”. Free speech means accepting that people have a right to say something you don’t like to hear. And if that means rape jokes, then that’s what it means. If women don’t like that, then they can comment that they don’t like it.

    Personally, I see this as hypocritical. They are banning misogynistic speech, but seem to be doing nothing about misandristic speech. You can’t say anything negative about women, but it’s okay to say a man thinks with his penis?

    • Amanda

      There is NO such thing ad misandristic speech so, save your b.s.

      • M.E.

        Seriously? That’s like my daughter’s PSE teacher saying “there is no such thing as female-on-male domestic violence”, except misandric speech happens a lot more often.

  • Blue Note

    This is so PC stupid that it is hard to believe that someone is pushing it…especially an ex-porno seller.

  • roy james

    Online misogyny or other victimizing (mis)behavior is to be seen as a symptom of a disease affecting all forms of life. Violence, among beings other than human is generally from the female, that too during the mating season, immediately after the male completes his mission. Imagine, what would have been the state of the human male, had not our our ancestors taken effective steps to prevent the woman from venting her ire? Misogyny is only one such step, keeping the woman busy defending herself.

    • Laura Crest

      OMFG, you must be kidding. We’re talking about HUMANs. There is no misogyny amongst insects and animals.

      • roy james

        Imagine what would have been the state of the human males, had the females been venting their ire, each and every time the male completes his ‘mission’, especially with a mating season extending to twelve months a year? Thanks to the many defensive tactics adopted by mankind(including the preemptive strike – misogyny), we are yet to reach this condition.

  • Tim Line

    Farcical! This sort of nonsensical rubbish just facilitates further inequality. In my opinion the pendulum has swung way to far in the direction of women, while misandry and other huge inequalities are ignored and often encouraged.

    Don’t even get me started on this, but lets just take Family Courts and the blatant inequality that goes on there. Fathers get an extremely raw deal and so do their children. Over 1 million kids in the UK have now been separated from their dads by the Family Courts and there are over 4 million growing up in fatherless households.

    Its a national disgrace and slowly people are realising the social impact this is going to have on the next generations.

    The word equality insinuates ‘fairness’, but in this country seems to mean nothing of the sort. Perhaps idiots like Drew Curtis spent a little effort on equality (never mind whether men or women) he might do some good.

    • Amanda

      This article isn’t about family courts, you moron! It’s about cracking down on misogyny on the internet.

    • Laura Crest

      So you’re an embittered man who felt he got a raw deal in a custody hearing. Your comment has nothing to do w/online misogyny – except to point out that you’re probably a misogynist.

  • Kim

    I am against people saying jokes about rape Etc but banning speech is the start of a slippery slope. If you don’t like it, delete it! People are getting too sensitive and many people try to profit by making false allegations. Move on and forget it. Bring back the free speech of the 70s

    • Amanda

      It’s what these sites are planning on doing with misogynistic comments, genius – deleting them???

  • http://google.com Inquisitive Mouse

    Nice publicity stunt!

  • Sharon

    Hi,
    Free Speech has with it some responsibilities; that is, it about creating greater freedom, not causing pain. Greater respect for how we speak about each other goes a very long way to establishing quality relationships and the breakdown of bullying and ultimately violence against women. thank you,

  • Amanda

    Well, this is a good start considering the internet is turning into nothing but, one big cesspool of misogynistic garbage where dudes are trying to hinder a woman’s voice from being heard (or in this case, read) by making threats of violence (sexual or otherwise) or being verbally abusive.

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  • WACKY SPARTAN

    FOR
    IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

    Contact: Sebastian X

    universecomics@gmx.com
    marvelouscomics.weebly.com

    Conform Comics

    COMIC REJECTS SALES FROM RACISTS &
    MISOGYNISTS

    Boyle Heights, CA,
    Aug 31, 2014:—You
    don’t like that we use minorities, & natives in our
    books?–Don’t read it–if you want to see half dressed women great,
    go away. We are not here to entertain misogynists or racists. Women
    are still being paid less than men for the same job and the implied
    truth is women are; worth less. For us the rights of women &
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    In no wide scale basis–are girls allowed to play with boys in
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    as effective as it is damaging. We PRETEND it is a performance based
    system but where is the merit when you are AUTOMATICALLY excluding
    girls from playing with boys (or men with women) without even a try
    out? What is the subconscious message when you segregate sports
    between the sexes? Is this the new separate but equal?

    If women are forbidden from taking a
    swing of the bat or vote –how the heck are you going to trust them
    to work with you? One action reinforces the other and exclusion IS
    absolutely the goal. From an early age it is inbred in us. “WAUGH,
    I don’t want to play with girls they got cooties!” Jackie
    Robinson and the ‘mongrel race’ singled the “end of baseball as
    we know it.“ What’s the problem now? Are we concerned that the
    next great threat comes from the ‘vaginal race‘? Screw this
    hidden racism that we hang onto with fragile egos. Money is not the
    root of all evil; insecurity is. It is not greed that drives us to
    the brink of perpetual disasters, but this vile lack of
    self-confidence. My prediction is that ‘Jane Robison’ will pose a
    far greater peril than Jackie ever did.

    We say there are no rights for kids
    that are born here from ‘immigrants‘–yet, we are ALL born here
    from something worse. Is it no longer murder because too much time
    has passed? Many comedians ask: “Is it too soon?” I ask: “Is it
    too late?” There is NO STATUE OF LIMITATIONS ON MURDER. Therefore
    it continues, to this day, to be a CRIME. We struggle in a country
    that hypes freedom yet the Supreme Court strips our voting rights and
    virtually dismantles affirmative action. All critical in protecting
    the rights of minorities–we have taken a 50 year step backwards &
    we have revealed a far more sinister yet connected fact: The State
    Department imparts that “there are more slaves now than at any
    another time in human history.” Surprise! Human bondage NEVER
    ended, not in this country, not anywhere.

    Just as ‘Americans‘, we must
    accept that we are still the criminal intruders. And as if to drive
    home the point—we disrespect natives by using THEIR “N” word to
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    that they serve as a dark reflection of who we REALLY are? We draw a
    false distinction between ‘legal’ and ‘illegal’ immigrants,
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    are most vulnerable in our society. Primarily Natives–where are they
    in TV, films, or comics?–followed by other minorities and women–if
    you don’t like it–we don’t care you have plenty of other places
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    RangerCore,
    Blind Obedience, Conform Comics

  • Cpm

    What about Drew’s porn site? That’s not misogynistic?