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Facebook, Feminism, And Not Quite Understanding Numbers

Another of these complaints that the world just isn’t quite like someone would desire it to be. Here it’s that Facebook has the temerity to allow videos of people eating on public transport to be hosted on its site. There are two problems with this piece, one minor, one major. The first is not understanding this concept of private property:

That’s right. There’s a Facebook group where people post photos of women eating on public transport and make crap blow job jokes in the comments. At last count it had over 30,000 members. If you thought sexual harassment culture couldn’t get any weirder, you were wrong. Women can’t even eat a bag of crisps in peace in the digital age. I only know about this group because Rebecca is a member of Level Up, a feminist community that campaigns to end sexism in the UK.

Other Level Up members reported the group to Facebook in early September. But Facebook’s desire to apologise seemed to have evaporated. Level Up supporters were told that the group didn’t violate its community guidelines. A group encouraging members to photograph women without their consent was fine by Facebook – but thanks for your feedback. So we launched a petition, which garnered thousands of signatures. We teamed up with a journalist who had appeared on the group a few years ago and managed to get her photograph taken down. Still no further response from Facebook.

My local Nando’s seems to care more about women feeling safe and comfortable than Facebook does. If a man in Nando’s tried to film me while I was eating peri-peri wings I’m confident the staff would tell him to stop. They would probably kick him out. Facebook won’t respond to our complaints.

Nando’s is private property. Therefore those who run Nando’s get to decide what is acceptable behaviour in Nando’s. Public transport is public space. Therefore the rules about who can do what are different. The assumption being that picture taking, filming, are fine in public places. It is not true, for example, that any passer by in a street scene must be asked or their permission for the picture, film, to be shown.

Just different rules. But then on to the big mistake. Forget profit for a moment, private business and all that. Think in a loftier tone. Let’s think about the supply of something. As a general rule if more people like it than don’t then we’d want that thing to be supplied. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, obviously, there’d be a decent audience for public executions but the disagreement of the starring turn we consider quite important. But as a reasonable and general rule mob tastes win. This is before we get to the idea that absent third party harm – actual, direct, harm – people should be free to do what they damn well want.

This could lead to an accusation of mansplaining of course but why is it that so many complainers don’t get basic maths?

Now I don’t want to tell the Facebook public relations team how to do their job. But I’m not convinced ignoring thousands of feminists who know how to use social media is a good idea.

Maybe, maybe not.

That’s right. There’s a Facebook group where people post photos of women eating on public transport and make crap blow job jokes in the comments. At last count it had over 30,000 members.

Well, 30,000 seems to trump several thousand by an order of magnitude. Thus the good of the greatest number would indicate that we allow the videos to roll on, doesn’t it?

Perhaps we need to remind Ms. Afoko of how this works. Feminism is that women get to do as they wish, not that they get to force all to do as the feminists wish. That’s matriarchy, just as bad as patriarchy, nu?

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5 years ago

Broke my ankle hiking in the mountains and the rescue team had a camera crew, who asked my permission as they were making a commercial documentary, the other passing hikers that wanted to film the helicopter winching someone up were free to do what they wanted.
No big deal, sometimes people go looking for offence, not like the person photographed gets a personal invite to come and view the comments

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