By Megan Taros, May 28, 2013 09:32 PM EDT
(PHOTO CREDIT: Twitter) This image that Facebook chose not to remove generating controversy Saturday in which users accused the social media site of being careless in its enforcement of hate speech rules.
A Facebook user reported an image last week posted by a group on the social media called "Offensive Humor At Its Best," which contained an image of a woman with tape across her mouth, with the following typed over it: "Don't wrap it and tap it, tape her and rape her."
Feminist groups and advertisers were shocked in the days following as Facebook had responded to the complaints about hate speech as not violating the site's terms of service and defended its decision under the premise of preserving free speech, with the screenshot of the response going viral on the Internet, Think Progress reported.
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The outrage regarding Facebook's inaction stemmed from a larger campaign beginning May 21, in which feminist organizations -- including Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, Rape Victims Advocates and V-Day -- wrote an open letter to the social network asking it to remove groups, pages and images "that explicitly condone or encourage rape or domestic violence or suggest that they are something to laugh or boast about," MSN reported.
More than 40 groups signed the letter.
The movement really started picking up traction Saturday when Everyday Sexism posted the aforementioned reported photograph suggesting rape that Facebook elected not to remove.
Groups also expressed outrage at Facebook's one-sided enforcement of its rules, removing images about women's breast health and citing it as "inappropriate," but protecting images mocking domestic violence as free speech.
Since then, at least 15 advertisers have pulled the plug on Facebook. Among the groups choosing to remove themselves from the site are Nationwide UK, Nissan UK, and J Street.
A petition began circulating acknowledging the difficulty of removing all offensive content from the site, but asking the platform to be more mindful and diligent of removing images condoning violence against marginalized groups. It has since collected more than 220,000 signatures.
A Twitter hashtag #FBrape also started in an attempt to stir action from the Palo Alto-based company.
Facebook released a statement Tuesday addressing the concerns of users, promising to "do better" in the future to make its site a more friendly environment.
"We work hard to remove hate speech quickly, however there are instances of offensive content, including distasteful humor, that are not hate speech according to our definition. In these cases, we work to apply fair,thoughtful, and scalable policies. This approach allows us to continue defending the principles of freedom of self-expression on which Facebook is founded," the statement said. ". . .That being said, we realize that our defense of freedom of expression should never be interpreted as license to bully, harass, abuse or threaten violence. We are committed to working to ensure that this does not happen within the Facebook community."
The social media website also included a list of ways it intends on solving the issue regarding hate speech and inappropriate content on its pages. The list reads as follows: