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‘Rapebook’ activist targeted with rape and assault threats on Facebook

By Arturo Garcia
Friday, April 5, 2013 19:00 EDT
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Facebook activist Trista Hendren
 
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An Oregon woman said she has been the victim of threats of rape and violence against her because of her campaign to remove Facebook pages that “joke” about those topics, including pictures of actual victims of sexual assault.

“They’re pretty scary,” Trista Hendren told ABC News. “They did actually post photos of women and girls being raped in the pictures. The message was pretty clear — either shut down this page or we are going to make you pay somehow.”

Hendren is part of a group of women who started “Rapebook,” which encourages users to report misogynistic pages on the social networking site. She described the campaign as a protest to make others aware of the kinds of content lurking on Facebook.

“I have two young kids and I wasn’t political at all and assumed it was a safe, happy place where you were there with your friends,” she said. “And then I realized that it’s really not.”

The page currently has more than 4,700 “Likes,” or shows of support, but it has also provoked an angry response; Hendren said she removed her personal profile from the site after her private information was posted online, on top of the accusations of censorship and threats on her life.

“I’m gonna trace your IP address,” said one user’s message against her. “Then come to your house in the night in a possum suit knock you out [and] take you out back to my cellar.”

A Facebook spokesperson, Fred Wolens, told KATU-TV that the company examines reported pages on an individual basis. For instance, Wolens said, a page that contains “jokes” about sexually assaulting babies was not removed because it did not threaten any specific person.

“(Facebook) tries to have a very permissive attitude toward humor because different cultures have different views of what is or isn’t humor,” Wolens said.

In a separate email, Facebook told ABC that it requires pages to clearly indicate when they post material that “may be in poor taste.”

“As you may expect in any diverse community of more than a billion people, we occasionally see people post distasteful content or make crude attempts at humor,” said the company’s email.

Watch ABC News’ story on the efforts by Hendren and her group to “clean up Facebook,” aired Friday, below.

Arturo Garcia
Arturo Garcia
Arturo R. García is the managing editor at Racialicious.com. He is based in San Diego, California and has written for both print and broadcast media, including contributions to GlobalComment.com, The Root and Comment Is Free. Follow him on Twitter at @ABoyNamedArt
 
 
 
 
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