Facebook, Hate & Trayvon Martin

Week one of the trial of George Zimmerman was a trying and often painful week to watch. From the visible pain of Sabrina & Tracy, Trayvon’s parents, to watching people all over social media mocking and insulting Rachel Jeantel, the 19yr old young lady who was the last to speak to Trayvon.

The most painful for me was the showing pictures of Trayvon’s dead body during the trial which news stations aired to the public. I didn’t think it was necessary to show the world these images. I personally did not look at the pictures and had made a decision not to look at them. I heard some people were posting the pictures on social media. I made a promise not only not to post them but to delete anyone who did.

On Wednesday I received a message from a friend asking if I had seen a page on FB. I opened the link to discover what I had made it a point not to see: Images of Trayvon’s dead body. But these weren’t just images. A very evil person photoshopped pictures of Trayons body onto some of the worse hateful images I have ever seen on FB. I cried, I cried so hard for this baby and his parents.

Then I got mad. Thinking what if Trayvon’s parents, family, friends, classmates or neighbors came across this on FB? With everything they have already been through, they didn’t deserve this. I began showing this page to any and every one. I struggled with whether to post it on my page but I decided people needed to see what was being done to Trayvon’s lifeless body on FB in order to be compelled into action!

Others began to become aware of this extreme hate being displayed and spreading the word to report and have these pages removed. But there was another offense coming. In addition to the desecration of Trayvon’s lifeless image, thousands of FB users were highly offended when FB responded to the reports made about this page and its content stating that after reviewing our reports, the page and its content “did not violate their community standards of hate speech”. which said to thousands of FB users that FB was supporting these hate pages.

This angered and offended many people who had images such as breast feeding their babies removed from their pages but FB was telling us that THIS was ok!

A full blown protest was started. I created an event on FB called “Facebook, Hate & Trayvon Martin. Remove the Facebook hate pages!” to help spread the word as far as possible. It took two days for FB to finally remove the page but not before the person created another one. We understand that we couldn’t stop the pages from being created but we know that FB can. We have to demand that FB restrict these type of extreme hate pages from being created.

In response, FB users began reaching out to their local radio and news stations and many began contacting top advertisers on FB such as McDonald’s and Budweiser letting them know their ads were appearing on a site that promotes such hate—which meant they too were supporting the hate. Other FB users decided to boycott FB for 24hrs on Monday 7/1/13, while others are deciding to block all advertisers from their FB using ad blockers.

Some people tried to defend these pages stating we live in a country where every ugly thing said or printed is protected under “free speech”… Obviously that isn’t true in Facebook land where FB often removes content from the personal pages of its users and even restricts people from commenting on “like” pages if that person’s comments are “flagged”.

All the hate-filled, racists FB pages (that we know of) showing Trayvon’s lifeless body have been removed—but that is not enough! We demand that Facebook update their policies and regulations and enforce them properly so that this does not continue to happen! Facebook allows underage teenagers to sign up for their website and should think more responsibly about protecting them from these types of images. But instead FB protects its advertisers over its users and this has to change.

FB has listened to the protests of women activists and advertisers demanding that pages promoting the degradation of sexual abuse victims be removed. Now they must listen to the voices of the African American community demanding that hateful images of Trayvon Martin’s dead body be banned from its site. Facebook has regulations against hate speech and we are demanding they keep their word to their users. Everything is ok….. Everything is allowed… Until YOU draw the line… and THIS is where WE DRAW THE LINE!