Posts about throwing gay people off of buildings were deemed not to have violated community guidelines.
LGBTQ+ activists from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have slammed Facebook after the platform refused to take action against posts which called for gay people to be killed.
One post, shown to Gay Star News, read: “If you think it’s your right to act on sodomy/ homosexuality, then it’s my right to throw you off the roof.”
Activists reported the post, but Facebook didn’t take action, saying “it doesn’t go against our community standards, including hate speech.”
Activists also reported an account, whose avatar depicts a stick figure kicking another rainbow stick figure in the stomach. The account’s posts are universally all anti-LGBTQ+ including pictures of burning Pride flags and rainbows being swept into the gutter.
Another post from a homophobic user depicts an Islamic warrior standing against a crowd of LGBTQ+ people, Black Lives Matter protesters and features anti-Semitic imagery. And another post shows Egyptian LGBTQ+ activist, Sarah Hegazi, who recently took her own life, burning in animated flames.
Campaigners from Egypt, Morocco, Russia, Sudan, Syria and Tunisia have now signed an open letter to Facebook, calling out the social media platform. Part of the letter read: “The MENA LGBTQI+ community has been reporting thousands of Arabic hate speech posts targeting women in general, and people of different sexual orientations in particular.
“Most of these reports were declined because the content ‘did not contradict the Facebook community standards.’ This is due to the lax implementation of effective anti-hate speech policies in our region, which makes the platform unsafe for sexual minorities.”
The letter calls on Facebook to adopt universal policies on hate speech and train staff in LGBTQ+ matters. It also asks for meetings with senior Facebook figures until the matter is resolved.
Speaking to Reuters, Adam Muhammed, the executive director of the Morocco-based ATYAF Collective, said: “In the U.S. and Europe, there is no room to spread hate speech against any sexual orientation, race, religion, sect or any other social group.”
In an email, a Facebook spokesperson said: “We do not allow death threats, attacks or hate speech directed at the LGBTQI+ community.
“We use a combination of user reports and technology to find this content and remove it. This includes expert teams who review reports of hate speech 24/7 in more than 50 languages, including Arabic, and AI tools that find nearly 90% of the hate speech we remove before users report it to us.
“We know we have more work to do here and we’ll continue to work closely with members of the LGBTQI+ community in the Middle East and North Africa to address this abhorrent behaviour.”
They added they were in regular dialogue with outside experts and organisations in order to get input on their Community Standards and enforcement processes.
They also disputed part of the open letter, saying: “Facebook is a global service, so these rules [on hate speech] apply to everyone – including people in the Middle East and North Africa.”
Facebook still has a mixed history with LGBTQ+ people. In the past, it has removed homophobic content, but it has also allowed content spreading misinformation against PrEP to be published on the website.