After protests, pressure from Australian officials, and an online petition, Facebook has taken down a page that targeted the country’s indigenous peoples, the Aborigines.
The page, “Aboriginal Memes,” saw users post oftentimes discriminatory and racially spiked memes about the continent’s original inhabitants, which total around 2.3% of its population. “How do you kill 1000 flies at once? Slap me in the face,” read one image.
According to SBS, the page drew the ire of many Australians, including Communications Minister Stephen Conroy who said, “We don’t want to live by the same standards that Facebook does. I think it’s an offence. It’s been reclassified but I think it should be taken down.”
A petition was formed on popular online petition site change.org, and has since garnered over 18,000 signatures.
At first, Facebook refused to remove the page, saying that it failed to violate the social network’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.
Here’s what the petition had to say about it:
The page “Controversial Humor Aboriginal Memes” is an attack on the Aboriginal people of Australia and violates this term. Racist terms such as “coon” are used in photos and there are many memes that completely belittle the rich heritage of the Aboriginal people.
It is an openly racist page that is encouraging hate towards Aboriginal people. I find it sickening that Facebook would refuse to remove this page.
As of the writing of this article, the page has been removed.
But, as is the case when many Facebook pages are taken down, the game of whack-a-mole begins. A new page simply titled “Abo Memes” has sprung up in the the pace of the original page. It already has nearly 2,000 likes. Here’s the type of meme that is offending many Australians:
Here’s the latest post from the page’s admin:
Controversial pages and calls to remove them are nothing new for Facebook. Back in 2011, a page called “Third Palestinian Intifada” made headlines when it took Facebook a few days to take it down, even though it advocated violence.
Facebook’s aformentioned Statement of Rights and Responsibilities states that content cannot “bully, intimidate, or harass any user.” It also states that content will be removed if it “is hate speech, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence.”
But people have varying opinions on what constitutes things like “hate speech.” After the deadly movie theater shootings in Aurora, Colorado last month, dozens of pages popped up in support of the the alleged shooter, James Holmes. As you would expect, many people called for their immediate removal – but the majority of them are still up and running. In the end, it all boils down to what’s considered “threatening” or “hateful,” as opposed to simply offensive.