A few months ago, a man I’ve never met (we went to same high school, several years apart) was upset because I reported him to Facebook for posting anti-gay content. I blocked him after a bit, then heard from mutal friends that he was posting negative comments about me, including being an mentally ill unstable lesbian as the reason I turned him in. Unfortunately, even though I had screenshots of the comments, I had no way to report him because I had already blocked him. There was nothing I could do to advocate for myself with Facebook. I had to rely on a few friends to report him. That was very frustrating. (Ironically, someone else had been turning him so I’m sure they had a good laugh when he was on a verbal rampage about me. Oh well.)
A few weeks ago, I discovered that another man I’ve never met and never had contact with had posted homophobic and derogatory sexist comments about me on Foursquare.com. I posted about that experience. I took screenshots, reported him, and used social media to track down his identity. His only connection with me is a mutual acquaintance with neighbors up the street.
This is a little more scary. This man has discussed purchasing a gun and was actually charged with disorderly conduct for providing false information to purchase a gun in the past. He talks about drinking quite a bit and he may be unemployed, perhaps have been fired (that’s unclear).
He also doesn’t know me. I’ve done no injury to him so there’s no reason he would go to such lengths to bash me. Making some comments on your Facebook page is one thing. Setting up a venue on Foursquare, checking in repeatedly, posting that on Facebook and writing the following “tip” about the venue is a whole different issue. It took planning, effort and some cunning. I’m pretty sure he knows my address, my work and perhaps what car I drive.
Hag Bag Headquarters “Welcome to whore ville all dykes get in free.”
Nice, huh? But here’s the best part. Facebook hasn’t removed the comments from his page, comments that include that exact wording. Foursquare issued a warning to him and the other 5 people who checked in to the fake venue. I complained that he and the person who set up the venue (not sure who that is, but they know) should be held more accountable — that there’s a difference between tacitly supporting bashing women/LGBT people and actively setting up the means to do so.
Here is the Foursquare Terms of Service (TOS):
By way of example, and not as a limitation, you shall not (and shall not permit any third party to) either (a)take any action or (b)upload, download, post, submit or otherwise distribute or facilitate distribution of any Content on or through the Service, including without limitation any User Submission, that:
- infringes any patent, trademark, trade secret, copyright, right of publicity or other right of any other person or entity or violates any law or contractual duty;
- you know is false, misleading, untruthful or inaccurate;
- is unlawful, threatening, abusive, harassing, defamatory, libelous, deceptive, fraudulent, invasive of another’s privacy, tortious, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, offensive, profane, contains or depicts nudity, contains or depicts sexual activity, promotes bigotry, discrimination or violence, or is otherwise inappropriate as determined by foursquare in its sole discretion;
So let’s see … abusive, harassing, defamatory, libelous, deceptive, fraudulent, invasive of privacy, vulgar, offensive, promotes bigotry, discrimination … he hit a lot of these qualifiers. But he gets a warning
Foursquare and Facebook are NOT responding to gay bashing and gender bashing in an appropriate and acceptable manner. I have no way to tell Facebook that his status updates about buying a gun could be related to the hate posts about me. I told Foursquare and asked them to do more than warn him. They told me to call the authorities.
I believe that’s irresponsible on their part. Targeting my home with this language could incite violence against me and it certainly defames an organization just trying to help feed our neighbors. I just want Foursquare to take it seriously and take the next step. Warn the folks who checked-in, but take the next step with him and the individual who set up the site. Send a message that bashing LGBT people and bashing women is not tolerated. It merits more than a slap on the wrist.
It was only a year ago that a woman was raped after her ex posted a listing on Craigslist that she had a rape fantasy. The ad was reported, but it was too late. She was assaulted and raped in her home by a man who responded to the ad and communicated with her ex (posing as her.) Craigslist changed their policies, but the issue of social media liability for content was very contentious.
I’m uncomfortable “checking in” to my project – so using Foursquare for a project that is heavily venue driven is off the table. Sad for them. We have hundreds of venues to use or add to their service.
Social media has the potential to incite others. It needs to used appropriately. There’s no such thing as free speech because Foursquare and Facebook are private companies. They can control language and images on their sites and clearly protect themselves with these TOS agreements.
They just need to enforce them.
You can contact Foursquare:
Use this ticket number in the subject line: #204550
Here’s some examples
A Florida teacher was suspended for posting homophobic comments on his Facebook page.
Similar circumstances in New Jersey (much worse content.)
Facebook allegedly partnered with GLAAD in 2010 to address gay bashing. Hmmm.