We all love leftovers, but leftovers aren’t that appetising when riddled with misogyny.
In 2000, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg started off his now illustrious career by launching a campus-based Hot or Not type site called FaceMash. If you haven't watched The Social Network, that's where a lot of us first heard about it.
Essentially the first version of Facebook pitted Harvard’s female students against each other (mostly without their knowledge) in a superficial contest of comparison, as fellow male students rated each female student by looks alone.
Fast forward 19 years and Facebook might still be peppered with sexism. Last week my colleague and I noticed a strange feature on Facebook’s search.
We typed in ‘photos’ and it suggested we complete our search with ‘of female friends’; it even went further, suggesting we search for ‘photo of female friends in bikinis’.
Hitting enter, an assortment of images of my female friends were spat out. Do the same with ‘photos of male friends’, and nada.
Articles and photos of memes, etc. come up. Other Facebook users also noticed this last week, some saying that ‘female’ was suggested when they typed in ‘male’.
The ‘bikinis’ version of this search produced a hodgepodge of images of women I’m not friends with. Maybe my friends just didn’t have bikini pics uploaded?
However, each Facebook user’s results will differ, and some of the searches have since produced different results for me a week on.
Wired says, “Facebook search predictions are also uniquely personalised for each user, based on the pages you have liked, the groups you have joined, the current city you provided, your connections, location data, and the News Feed posts and search results you’ve engaged with in the past."
Fast Company and a few others reached out to Facebook for comment after more and more people started noticing this ‘glitch’.
However, this phenomenon turned out to speak more about us that it does Facebook. Belgian security researcher/hacker, Inti De Ceukelaire tweeted about these sexist autocomplete predictions last week and digi-led sites like Wired and Techdom also picked up on it, saying it’s not a feature of Facebook’s sexist beginnings or the work of downright misogynistic engineers.
It is in line with the algorithm, like with Google search, it basically autocorrects to what people are searching for most during that given period.
More people are currently searching for ‘photos of my female friends in bikinis’ than ever before; hence this development.
It holds up a mirror to society basically, showing its true face.
Most of the biggest social media sites now have anti-pornography policies, outlawing both explicit sexual content and nudity. And some are blaming the Tumblr porn ban, which came into effect last year for this recent Facebook #trend.
Yet I still find it very concerning that people are turning to their Facebook friends for this kind of content. Is perving over your friends in bikinis the new ‘send nudes’?
In a world where porn just doesn’t hack a satisfying stroke anymore, could real-as-can-be imagery of those you know be the future of sex content?
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