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Facebook and Game Global’s Facilitation of Rape Culture

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Roar writer India Dunkley on big tech and the facilitation of rape culture at Facebook and Game Global.

The jaded edges of the pandemic linger: dwindling social skills and induced isolation are common among many of us staggering out of this bizarre lapse of time. Suddenly it feels slightly more awkward to start conversations, connect with others and maybe even find a romantic partner. Game Global is a social network for “pick up artists” which claims to improve male confidence and success with women; this is, at least, how it markets itself. Ultimately though, the site encourages violent abuse against women, gamifies misogyny and enables users to boast about raping women; and yes, the site is still in operation, still active on Facebook and is still very much an existential threat to the decades of progress made to increase the safety of women internationally.

Game Global was founded in 2018 by children’s authors Kieran Brown, 39, and Joe Elvin, 33, and Alex “Ice” White and is reported to have over 26,000 users across the network, including nearly 2,000 members of Game Global’s private Facebook group. Concerns have been raised by the Centre for Countering Digital Hate, the CCDH, in relation to the content being shared on the site including comments about “gaming women into sex” and tips being shared to “reduce female resistance” when it comes to desiring sex. Members have been flagged sharing suggestions on how to “discipline” and “seal the deal” with a virgin who is showing reluctance to engage in sexual activity, one user commented: “She had no idea what I was doing hahaha. Virgins are super flighty I’ve noticed. Unless they’re drunk hahaha.”

These concerns come just over a year after a BBC investigation into the global network of “pick-up artists” or “lifestyle coaches” which forced YouTube to remove hundreds of videos that contained “explicit, sexual and graphic content” and advertised exploitation of young women, often secretly recorded engaging in sexual activity. The investigation also led to the conviction of Adnan Ahmed, 38, who ran a channel called “Addy-A-Game” which also shared tips on how to seduce women and “overcome last-minute resistance” to sex. In a statement, Eddie Hitchens – the founder of Street Attraction, another online “gaming” site, – claimed that his site in fact served to “prevent rape culture” by “helping men” and deter them from getting involved in anything illegal.

The fact is that these dark, violent corners of the internet are still very much accessible. It only takes a single frivolous google to identify Game Global’s official site, as well as its private Facebook group which, I repeat, is still very much active. Facebook has come under increasing scrutiny in the wake of these concerns: Imran Ahmed, the CEO of CCDH has condemned Facebook’s inaction stating that “by failing to act, social media companies are in effect aiding and abetting violent misogyny” and even suggested that “if Facebook continues to refuse to take down these sex offender schools, the government must force them to do so through its Online Safety Bill”.

Earlier this year, Facebook released a statement to assure its users that it’s AI technology is progressing at promising rates to tackle online hate speech, to detect and remove hateful comments: Facebook claimed that it is now working with a 97.1% proactive detection rate. Ultimately, the question is, does this go far enough?

Anyone with a Facebook account can join private groups such as Game Global and once inside the group, the regulation is minimal. Frustrating this further is our increasing submergence into the “attention economy” which underscores our daily online addiction to social media sites and big tech companies. In essence, the power balance between you and big tech is quintessentially asymmetric when companies such as Facebook obtain the idyllic business model, which turns on the sweet spot between addiction, bandwagoning and copious profitable returns. Perhaps it is time to ask ourselves whether or not it is really within Facebook’s interests to make changes that could ultimately deplete users’ engagement, deteriorate revenue and distort that oh so magnificent attention commodification genius.

Until we make a genuine and substantiated effort to face these looming questions about the ethical sensitivity of social media giants, and their normative role in protecting women against online sexual violence and abuse, Facebook must accept responsibility for allowing the likes of Game Global to remain in operation and ultimately for being a facilitator of rape-culture.

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