There is a Facebook group called 💪🐻 Muscle Bear 🐻💪 for people in America, Australia and the U.K. who admire big-muscled men. It currently has 18,418 members, but since it’s a closed group, you have to answer three questions before the group’s administrators allow you to join. Question three clearly states, in all caps, “IF YOU ARE ASIAN OR AFRICAN, DO NOT JOIN THE GROUP BECAUSE IT WILL BE BLOCKED FROM THIS GROUP.” Oh great, another racist Facebook group.
Whether the group is referring to people who live in Asian or African countries or people of Asian or African descent, it’s racist nonetheless. And perhaps not very surprisingly, the group has still managed to attract nearly 18,500 members.
Now, it’s entirely possible some members of this group had already joined before the group’s administrators put a “No blacks or Asians” sign on the door. But if they joined after the question appeared, that means a group of Facebook users roughly equivalent to the entire population of Augusta, Maine, saw the group’s racist criteria and decided to join anyway because, hey, muscle bears.
Surprisingly, the group allows Latinx people to join. (Don’t ask us why.) But weirdly, the group’s racist new member questions might actually be allowed under Facebook’s somewhat ambiguous rules regarding hate speech.
Facebook defines hate speech as “anything that directly attacks people based on what are known as their ‘protected characteristics,'” including race. The social platform says it doesn’t allow such hate speech because “it creates an environment of intimidation and exclusion.”
And yet our research found no clear policy stating that Facebook groups can’t deny entry to members based on race. So technically a racist Facebook group like 💪🐻 Muscle Bear 🐻💪 is totally OK.
It gets worse. As recently as April 2018 anti-Muslim hate groups continued to operate on Facebook, so it may be that a racist muscle bear group is a low priority for the social platform’s attention.
Nevertheless, racism in the gay community is all too common, so we should all point it out and actively discourage it whenever we see it. As for this group, we’ve already reported it to Facebook. But even if the group’s administrator drops the racist statement from the group’s membership questions, it could still deny entry to men who appear Asian and African without Facebook ever knowing or doing anything about it.
So, we suggest you get your muscle bears on Tumblr instead. There are plenty of them, and you can enjoy them without any racist pre-screening process.