It’s no surprise that Facebook’s algorithms aren’t perfect, but now the social media platform has gotten itself into a new queer hullabaloo. It seems Facebook has been deleting comments and posts and instituting 30-day bans against lesbians for their use of the word “dyke.”
Needless to say, many women are pissed that they’re being censored from using a slur that they (thought they had successfully) reclaimed.
“Unbelievable,” says self-professed trans dyke Sarah Noble. “Just got a 30-day ban by Facebook for pro-LGBT content. DURING PRIDE MONTH.”
Listening 2 Lesbians reports that it began hearing about women banned for using the word “dyke” in early 2017. Since then it has called for screencaps of the word being banned from Facebook.
Here’s what Listening 2 Lesbians has to say about why banning the word “dyke” outright is a problem:
Even if you don’t agree with where we draw the lines, it shouldn’t be forbidden for lesbians to defend the language we need to discuss ourselves. We certainly shouldn’t be told we are not allowed to reclaim our own word and declare them with pride. In an age of endlessly touted freedom of speech, it is telling who is told to shut up and who does the telling. It is becoming increasingly obvious that dykes are on the losing end and are experiencing systematic erasure from public spaces.
While it’s clear that algorithms would have trouble distinguishing between ‘good’ uses of the word (“I’m heading to the San Francisco Dyke March this weekend.”) versus use of the word as an actual slur (“All dykes are going to hell”), official Facebook policy is that a live person examines “reported” posts and comments for content and context. Listening 2 Lesbians, however, believes algorithms are indeed being used to scan news and posts by Facebook users.
Getting to a solution will be no easy matter, though it’s apparent Facebook isn’t in the clear when it comes to issues affecting the LGBTQ community. It of course takes more than granting us the “Pride” reaction for the month of June to ensure we have a safe space, are respected and feel ‘listened to’ while projecting our lives onto social media.
Featured photo of the 2015 Boston Dyke March by Greg Cook
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