Hate speech on Facebook. Pages that represent “rape and domestic violence,” according to a women’s action group demanding the social network take “swift” and “comprehensive” action or face a possible advertiser boycott.
It’s Facebook’s problem, right? Everyone says so. It’s all over the news. The New York Times editorial board thinks the problem is related to sexism in technology and Internet companies that are mostly run by men. GigaOM sees it as a slippery slope for free speech.
Whatever the opinion, the debate has focused entirely and singularly on Facebook. Nobody, and I mean nobody, is calling out the real perpetrators of the hate speech on Facebook: those who actually posted it.
Not only that, but if you Google “Facebook Hate Speech,” you get far more results (148 million, to be exact) than any other search term related to hate speech or violence against women, and that includes phrases related to India, Muslim nations, or Hip Hop music.
If everyone is so concerned about violence against women, there are far more egregious targets to go after than attacking Facebook for not taking down a page called “Kicking your Girlfriend in the Fanny because she won’t make you a Sandwich.”
Granted, there are more concerting posts on Facebook than that one, but nothing that even registers in comparison to what’s going on in India, some parts of the middle east, and rap lyrics and videos. So why is Facebook bearing the brunt of all this attention?
Because, we live in a very strange world. A politically correct world. A world where personal responsibility is no longer relevant. A world where everyone talks about blame 24/7 but nobody ever blames those actually responsible for wrongdoing.
The reason why nobody’s calling out the real perpetrators of all the hate speech and violence against women and others is that we live in a world where it’s only acceptable to blame five groups for anything: rich people, white men, CEOs, corporations, and the United States of America.
You can’t blame the morons who posted those idiotic Facebook pages or the barbaric treatment of women by entire cultures in other parts of the world because that wouldn’t be inclusive. After all, they’re minorities, members of some sort of protected class, victims of the man and American imperialism.
But it’s absolutely acceptable to use the most vile, violent, vitriolic, hate-filled speech against any individual or entity, as long as it falls into one of those five groups. It’s okay to do it on Facebook, in the public square, or pretty much anywhere else, for that matter. It’s just a whole lot easier and more cowardly to do it online.
Make no mistake, this is not about Facebook. It’s about how our politically correct and entitled culture actually reinforces hate speech and violent behavior by failing to call things what they really are and holding those who commit destructive acts accountable. Sometimes, in the case of violence against women, that even includes blaming the victim.
Here are just a few recent and relevant examples:
In all too many cases, those found guilty of rape and serious acts of domestic violence get off with light sentences. It’s society’s fault; we should try to rehabilitate them, not put them away so they can’t hurt anyone else or punish them for destroying their victim’s lives.
The Boston Marathon bombing wasn’t the fault of some sick, twisted Islamic terrorists. It was “tax day.” Or maybe our culture just isn’t inclusive enough.
The Benghazi attack that murdered four Americans wasn’t caused by terrorists but by an insensitive YouTube video. And it certainly wasn’t Hillary Clinton’s fault because, as she so aptly put it, “What difference at this point does it make?”
The Fort Hood massacre wasn’t the act of a deranged jihadist; it was “an act of workplace violence.”
The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting wasn’t caused by an insane mass murderer, but by a victim of bullying and, of course, a semi-automatic weapon with high-capacity magazines.
When we consistently blame the wrong people, when we’re unwilling to call things what they really are, when we coddle our children when they screw up, when we reward people with handouts they didn’t work for, when we fail to hold our leaders accountable for their actions, it sends a crystal clear message that personal responsibility doesn’t matter.
And if you think everyone on planet Earth isn’t getting that message loud and clear, turn on any network or cable news program or try to watch a prime-time show anytime one of these disasters happens. You’ll see 24x7 rock star-like coverage, much of which includes all the politically correct euphemisms and misplaced blame that reinforce that sort of behavior.
That’s how you end up with all that hate speech on Facebook. And that’s how you end up with 148 million Google search records blaming hate speech on an Internet company, not on those who posted it there or on those who actually commit violence against women.
In reality, none of this is Facebook’s fault. It isn’t even Facebook’s problem. It’s yours and mine.
Steve Tobak is a Silicon Valley-based strategy consultant and former senior executive of the technology industry.