Facebook, the six-year old social networking site that helps more than 350 million friends, families, colleagues, and companies keep in touch, is fast becoming the online home to another type of social network: anti-gay hate groups.
Fast-forming, often created by people who post false profiles just to gain the ability to create their hate group, anti-gay hate groups on Facebook are filled with claims of religiosity, or just plain unadulterated ignorance, bigotry, and hate. Facebook management has been criticized for their slow response and poor monitoring of new groups and content, despite the fact that these groups violate Facebook’s “Statement of Rights and Responsibilities,” its Terms of Service (TOS) which states,
“You will not post content that is hateful, threatening, pornographic, or that contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence.”
“You will not use Facebook to do anything unlawful, misleading, malicious, or discriminatory.”
And yet, despite many, many attempts to report these groups, they still exist. Facebook, it seems, all but refuses to remove them.
Eighteenth century Parisian writer and philosopher Voltaire is (mistakenly) credited to have said,
“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
Those days are long gone. The rest of Western Society has evolved. In 2008, the New York Times ran an article titled, “Hate speech or free speech? What much of West bans is protected in U.S.”
In O’Reilly, a well-respected tech blog, discussing Facebook’s “Holocaust denial and racist ‘white pride’ groups,” Caitlyn Martin writes,
“The Facebook pages in question do appear to violate the laws of at least 15 nations and the European Union as a whole. Despite clear prohibitions against hate and illegal, misleading or discriminatory activity Facebook continues to allow and indeed defend pages that violate it’s own terms.”
But here in the U.S., surprisingly, “free speech,” codified in our Bill Of Rights as part of the First Amendment to the Constitution, is not especially well-understood. For example, former-Governor Sarah Palin, famous for so many misstatements, exhibited her ignorance during the 2008 presidential campaign, stating,
“If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations,” Palin told host Chris Plante, “then I don’t know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media.”
Glenn Greenwald reminded Palin, and us, what our “First Amendment rights” are:
“The First Amendment is actually not that complicated. It can be read from start to finish in about 10 seconds. It bars the Government from abridging free speech rights. It doesn’t have anything to do with whether you’re free to say things without being criticized, or whether you can comment on blogs without being edited, or whether people can bar you from their private planes because they don’t like what you’ve said.
“If anything, Palin has this exactly backwards, since one thing that the First Amendment does actually guarantee is a free press. Thus, when the press criticizes a political candidate and a Governor such as Palin, that is a classic example of First Amendment rights being exercised, not abridged.”
But when someone claims they can write or post whatever they want, on Facebook, Twitter, or a blog, they may be unaware that there actually are limits. And those limits can be dictated by the platform or website’s owners, like Facebook. Once an organization adopts service rules, it becomes their responsibility to administer them fairly and evenly and consistently. And Facebook has neglected to do so, despite numerous reports and requests.
In a litigious society such as ours, where libel and slander cases are often merely opportunities for financial gain, it’s amazing Facebook executives, who employ more than one thousand people and had revenue in excess of $300 million in 2008, have been so slow to react.
There are dozens, at least, of active anti-gay hate groups. Some have just a few members, some have a few hundred. Some, thousands.
Some, like “WE DONT WANT TO LEARN ABOUT NO LESBIAN’S OR GAYS AT SCHOOL!!!” offer this as their official description:
“beeing gay is an sickness, the goverment should use time to show them the right path, instead of just accepting it!!
give a lesbian girl some time with an boy,let her get to know him,let her use some time with him,sexually and the same thing with the boy and SEE THE DIFFERENCE!!
beeing gay, is just an confusion that has been created in the mind of the human, because HUMANS are afraid of the unknown!”
That’s verbatim, spelling errors and stupidity unedited.
Then there’s “Death Note,” a group with 575 members. It’s purpose?
“if you want 2 kill s 1 join this group
y3ni if u hate gays ; boyaas or anything like that just come here and write his/her name on the post and with 40 seconds the person will die of a heartattack
u can change the time and type of death as you like”
I started to make a list of the anti-gay hate groups, but realized that there were just too many. “HELP US REPORT HOMOPHOBIC HATE GROUPS ON FACEBOOK” has an excellent list, most of which are still active, which means Facebook isn’t doing much, if anything, to shut these groups down, again, despite that these groups violate Facebook’s own TOS.
Here’s a partial list — only a small spattering — of anti-gay hate groups:
You may choose to dismiss these as tiny, or inconsequential, but I would disagree. Despite their obvious stupidity, inability to gather a large base, or spell, they empower their members to feel comfortable with their hate. And that’s dangerous, because hate breeds more hate. It multiplies, exponentially.
Facebook anti-gay hate groups simply embolden their readers and members to “come out” from any societal suggestions that hate is wrong. Even prominent members of mainstream groups like the GOP, and right-wing bloggers have taken to likening “political correctness” to “a war on Judeo-Christianty” and “Shariah law.” Shorter version: It’s OK to publicly spew your hate.
Because the net effect of their actions breeds acceptability of hatred toward the LGBTQ community, I believe groups like the National Organization for Marriage can be labeled hate groups. I believe working to ban same-sex marriage is a hate crime.
Also dangerous is a group like “Ban Same-Sex Marriage.” I first came upon it and for a split-second wondered if it were fair to include it here. I mean, I spend my days, and nights, working to advance civil rights and marriage equality, so of course a group like, “Ban Same-Sex Marriage” is anathema to my work and my life. But can you call it a “hate group” on the same plane as, for example, “Kill All Gays” if they are (“merely”) advocating banning same-sex marriage? Well, yes, you can.
But the group “Ban Same-Sex Marriage” is even worse. They pretend to be a Christian forum for discussing banning same-sex marriage:
“Well, being a Christian, I believe that marriage is a sacred union between a man and a wife, as described in the Bible. Therefore, same-sex marriage is an affront to the Bible and Godly standing, and therefore should not be allowed to stand.”
Blah, blah, blah, heard it a million times before.
But then, in their rules, they include this:
“This group only refers to the United States. Not the world, not foreign countries, not anywhere else. We as Americans cannot pass foreign laws on other nations and impose our will on them. However, in this nation, we can stop homosexuality right now. All framers of debate should keep this in mind when posting. We may make arguments about homsexuality [sic] as it applies to the world, but as for banning same-sex marriage, we are only talking about the U.S.A.”
“we can stop homosexuality right now.”
So, this group, shrouded in the bible, well-written, and well-populated (1786 members as of this writing) wants to “stop homosexuality right now.” Not just “Ban Same-Sex Marriage,” but “stop homosexuality right now.”
What to do?
Well, first, visit all these sites, and the ones on “Get these anti-gay groups off facebook!” and click the link in the bottom left-hand corner that says, “Report Group.”
Second, tell all your friends, your neighbors, your family. Share this post with them. Repost it on Facebook, Twitter, email it, etc.
Third, join the following Facebook groups, and ask your friends and family to also. There is strength in numbers.
Get these anti-gay groups off facebook! (Great site!)
And finally, take solace knowing that over 20,000 have joined the group, “Ban the “GAY EXTERMINATORS” from Facebook.”
Success! Facebook shut down most of these anti-gay hate groups just hours after this post was published! Read, “Facebook Or Hate Book? Facebook Shuts Down Anti-Gay Hate Groups!“
We invite you to sign up for our new mailing list, and subscribe to The New Civil Rights Movement via email or RSS.