All of this raised a series of troubling questions: Who’s proliferating this violent content? But, as in the physical world, some users are more equal than others.In other words, social media is more symptom than disease: A 2013 report from the World Health Organization called violence against women “a global health problem of epidemic proportion,” from domestic abuse, stalking, and street harassment to sex trafficking, rape, and murder.A company spokesman contacted the publication immediately to explain that Facebook screeners had mishandled the case, conceding that Thorlaug’s photo “should have been taken down when it was reported to us.” According to the spokesman, the company tries to address complaints about images on a case-by-case basis within 72 hours, but with millions of reports to review every day, “it’s not easy to keep up with requests.” The spokesman, anonymous to “We apologize for the mistake.”* * *If, as the communications philosopher Marshall Mc Luhan famously said, television brought the brutality of war into people’s living rooms, the Internet today is bringing violence against women out of it.Once largely hidden from view, this brutality is now being exposed in unprecedented ways.In December 2012, an Icelandic woman named Thorlaug Agustsdottir discovered a Facebook group called “Men are better than women.” One image she found there, Thorlaug wrote to us this summer in an email, “was of a young woman naked chained to pipes or an oven in what looked like a concrete basement, all bruised and bloody.
Many sent graphic images, and some included detailed police reports that had gone nowhere. When Soraya wrote about these topics, she received threats online.
Catherine, meanwhile, received warnings to back up while reporting on the cover-up of a sexual assault. In theory, social media companies are neutral platforms where users generate content and report content as equals.