Facebook has reversed its decision to censor an independent think tank group that posted men can’t get pregnant.
The social media giant claimed it was an “error” following public backlash despite initially saying the decision to impose the ban was “final.”
Women’s Forum Australia, which promotes a pro-women approach to social and cultural issues, became a target of censorship when it posted a screenshot of a tweet on July 22 which said: “Exactly zero men have ever given birth in any year, in any country.” The screenshot was accompanied by an affirming caption consisting of three underlined red 100 emojis.
The original tweet was published by Sall Grover, founder of women-only app Giggle, in response to a news.com.au article that stated, “each year in Australia, several men give birth to children.”
Facebook removed the post a few days later, explaining that it “goes against our Community Standards on dangerous individuals and organisations.”
Facebook further warned the page is “at risk of being unpublished and has reduced distribution and other restrictions due to continued Community Standards violations.”
According to Facebook’s guidelines, what is defined as “hate speech” includes “content that directly attacks people based on … sex, gender or gender identity.”
“Looking back at the post, it is possible that the takedown was due to the usage of explicit words,” Facebook said in a message to Women’s Forum Australia.
“Which were the explicit words?” the women’s group asked, to which the social media giant didn’t answer.
“The only clarity I have is that Facebook is censoring and discriminating against views regarding biological sex.”
Facebook ended the conversation by saying that it won’t look into the issue further because the decision to take down the post is final, and there is no option to appeal.
However, after the issue was reported by the Australian media on Aug. 11, Facebook reversed the ban and said it was a mistake.
Women’s Forum CEP Rachael Wong called the ban “Orwellian” and criticised Facebook for censoring and discriminating against views affirming the reality of biological sex.
In a commentary on Aug. 10, Wong said since Facebook’s censorship began, their page has visibility has reduced dramatically.
“Does it (Facebook) consider the factual statement that men don’t give birth to be ‘hate speech’?” she wrote.
“If there was ever a ‘hateful ideology,’ it is the ideology that attempts to erase women and their sex-based rights.”
According to the United Nations Human Rights Special Rapporteur, Facebook’s definitions of terrorism and dangerous organisations are “overly board”, which may lead to over-censoring and arbitrary denial of access.
“While acknowledging the importance of regulating advocacy to violence, Facebook must make clear that the company maintains a robust protection of freedom of expression, including speech that may be offensive, distasteful or unacceptable to some,” the report said.