Facebook U-turn on ‘sexist’ UCC page

Facebook has done a U-turn and shut down a “sexist” page which published photographs of female students at University College Cork.

The social media giant reversed previous decisions not to act against the ‘UCC Bird of Day’ page and removed it from their site yesterday. The company said it contained nudity or pornography, references to drug use, and could be viewed as harassment, and as a result, violated its “community standards”.

The decision came in the wake of an Irish Examiner report yesterday which first highlighted the cyberbullying concerns which were expressed by the college authorities and student leaders about this and other pages which have appeared on Facebook in recent months bearing the name UCC.

The story was reported in other media outlets later in the day.

UCC condemned the pages and expressed cyberbullying concerns after receiving several complaints from students who were subjected to online abuse and bullying after their photos were taken and published on these pages without their consent.

UCC also said some of the pages contained hurtful and at times defamatory comments aimed at students and some college staff.

UCC’s media and public relations officer Tom McCarthy had used Facebook’s own ‘report’ tool to lodge complaints about certain posts on the ‘Bird of the Day’ page, to complain about the page itself, and to complain about similar pages using the UCC name without authorisation. But he said most of his reports were ignored.

However, in a coordinated effort, UCC Students’ Union and various clubs and societies also reported the pages. Mr McCarthy said this, combined with yesterday’s media coverage, probably tipped the balance.

“I would like to congratulate Facebook for the decision, but I wish it was easier to make our voices heard without having to resort to such a coordinated campaign,” he said.

UCC Students’ Union welfare officer Dave Berry also welcomed Facebook’s decision. “It’s a triumph for the spirit of mental well-being during out mental health week,” he said.

“We will continue to implement UCC’s social media policy and our campaign to tackle other such offending pages will continue.”

Mr Berry said there is support available for students who are affected by cyberbullying by contacting UCC Student Counselling on counselling@ucc.ie, tel 021-4903565 or www.ucc.ie/studentcounselling.

* You can view UCC’s social media policy at www.ucc.ie/en/dewg/policies


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