You know that thing they keep saying on Game of Thrones: "For the night is dark and full of terrors"? Swap "night" with "Internet" and you've got about the only explanation I can come up with for the existence of the unbelievably offensive "F'N Wook" Facebook page that's devoted to degrading female members of the U.S. Marine Corps.
Thanks to U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, who fired off a letter to the Secretary of Defense alone with top military brass, the page has been taken down -- but not before it racked up an astounding 10,000 likes for what Speier describes as a "culture of misogyny and sexual harassment." Worse, it appears the F'N Wook page has been on the Marines' radar for three years.
The page had received hundreds of comments and thousands of likes for its content aimed at degrading female Marines. It included a variety of offensive photos, including an image of a female Marine putting a colleague in a choke hold with the words, "This is my rape face." Another photo shows a woman with a black eye, with the accompanying text: "She burned the bacon. Once." Other images suggest military women perform sexual acts in exchange for promotions.
Speier's letter (PDF) calling out the Facebook page coincides with a disturbing report released by the Department of Defense which says sexual assaults rose by six percent from October 2011 to September 2012. Approximately 26,000 service members were sexually assaulted last year.
The Marines are now saying they'll take disciplinary action against anyone involved, and that "both active duty and reserve Marines have been involved." While there is "no tolerance for discriminatory comments" in the Marines, Speier says Marine Corps General James Amos has been aware of the F'N Wook page for three years.
The existence of this page certainly raises some questions about why Facebook tolerated it for so long (were they too busy taking down breastfeeding images?) when their own community standards expressly prohibit “harassment,” “hate speech,” and “graphic content.” Additionally, their policy states that “sharing any graphic content for sadistic pleasure is prohibited.”
Facebook hasn't exactly had a great history with responding to controversial pages, though. It took weeks of outrage and a Change.org petition that garnered more than 180,000 signatures to take down a page titled "What's 10 inches and gets girls to have sex with me? My knife," along with more than half a dozen more pro-rape pages back in 2011, a process that prompted Facebook to give this statement to the BBC:
It is very important to point out that what one person finds offensive another can find entertaining, just as telling a rude joke won't get you thrown out of your local pub, it won't get you thrown off Facebook. Groups or pages that express an opinion on a state, institution, or set of beliefs - even if that opinion is outrageous or offensive to some - do not by themselves violate our policies. These online discussions are a reflection of those happening offline, where conversations happen freely in people's homes, in cafes and on the telephone.
And there's the worst part of it all, I suppose -- the Facebook pages prove that these disturbing opinions exist, and that, unbelievably, some people agree with them. Like the “Support Innocence of Nanny Yoselyn Ortega” page that supports the New York nanny accused of butchering 6-year-old Lucia Krim and her little brother, Leo. Or the "Adam Lanza Is a Hero" page with the description, "Adam Lanzer [sic] should be awarded the highest honors for his work in population control. Forever in our hearts.”
People can be disgusting in real life and they can act even worse behind the anonymity of the Internet. I'm sure it's impossible for Facebook to track and take action on every potentially offensive page, but it sure seems to me that the F'N Wook page should have been flagged a LONG time ago for violating community standards.
Do you think the 'F'N Wook' page should be considered free speech and stay on Facebook?
Image via Facebook