Facebook refused to take down this blackface page for 4 months

Book Catalog/Flickr

The page displayed photos of people in blackface—and more than 150 negative reviews.

On Tuesday, Facebook finally removed a public page called “Black Face” that featured photos of people wearing blackface. The page remained active for four months despite pressure from multiple users to remove it. 

The page’s earliest posts can be traced to February. It had just over 100 Likes before it was taken down.

At least six people have told the Daily Dot that they reported the “Black Face” page and received a message from Facebook saying it didn’t “violate” its community standards. Two more people received a similar response upon reporting the page, according to screenshots obtained by the Daily Dot.

Over the last three months, the page received 165 “recommendations” that the Daily Dot reviewed. All 165 of them were negative reviews, with people repeatedly asking the page to be brought down. 

“This page is racist!!! Delete this immediately,” one user wrote in February.

“I just want to say to all actual Black people that I tried to report this but Facebook doesn’t care about racism,” another user wrote in March. “They refuse to acknowledge how racist this page is even after me telling them over and over again.”

Between Monday and Tuesday, following a call-out post from user Davey D Cook who said comedian Chris Riggins had reported the account, the page gained more traction. 

Margaret Kimberley, a columnist for Black Agenda Report, told the Daily Dot that she reported the account Monday night. Constance Gilmore, from Beaumont, Texas, told the Daily Dot she first reported the page on June 9 for “displaying hate speech.”

Facebook said, according to a screenshot shared by Gilmore, it didn’t “go against one of our specific Community Standards,” and requested that she report something “specific” on the page.

Facebook’s community standards include an extensive list of content that could fall under the category of attacks based on one’s identity, so it’s unclear why the social media platform wouldn’t immediately shut down a page featuring blackface, which is so explicitly racist.

Riggins confirmed with the Daily Dot that he reported the page. According to Cook’s post, both Riggins and Cook received a similar response from Facebook.

“We looked over the Page you reported, and though it doesn’t go against one of our specific Community Standards, we understand that the Page or something shared on it may still be offensive to you and others,” the Facebook response said.

So apparently FB has a public page where u can see people wearing Blackface... It’s received a number of complaints with...

Posted by Davey D Cook on Monday, June 24, 2019

Users Alicia Reed and Miss Mickalyn Metcalf reported the page back in May and received a similar response. Reed shared with the Daily Dot two other people’s accounts who received a similar response. Another user, Carl Michael Swicegood, told the Daily Dot he and a number of his friends reported the page and many of the photos.

“It’s a blatantly racist page, but Mark Zuckerberg says it’s completely within their ‘community standards,'” Swicegood wrote as a review in May.

It’s not clear what specifically people needed to point out about the page that was filled with photos of Black people appearing to be white and Asian wearing blackface, some of them captioned with jokes. 

The page displayed a now-debunked photo purporting to show Hillary Clinton in blackface and another 2007 photo of comedian Sarah Silverman wearing blackface in 2007, for which she was recently called out

“Like Blackface today and never miss another Blackface!!” read a post from February 11.

Another post read, “Blackface is the future!” 

“I responded to Facebook about their response and feel that they are so diligent with sexual content but it appears that they approve racial content which, by their actions, feel as if they are racist or complicit to racism,” Gilmore told the Daily Dot in a message. Amid a surge of more people reporting the page, Gilmore reported it again Monday evening.

The page was up until 5pm ET on Tuesday, when the Daily Dot was last able to access it. 

Facebook has confirmed it has taken the page down and will be looking into why it took so long for any kind of action, and the Daily Dot will update this report with an update on the platform’s response.

The months-long refusal to take down the page is even more infuriating as it has recently come to light that Facebook repeatedly censors Black voices, especially those who call out racism on the platform. Even those who use snippets of racist encounters where they’re a victim, to raise awareness about an incident, are often suspended from the platform. For a page like “Black Face” to remain on the platform—despite more than 100 complaints—is pure callousness.

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Samira Sadeque

Samira Sadeque

Samira Sadeque is a New York-based journalist reporting on immigration, sexual violence, and mental health, and will sometimes write about memes and dinosaurs too. Her work also appears in Reuters, NPR, and NBC among other publications. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School, and her work has been nominated for SAJA awards. Follow: @Samideque