David & Goliath

Coventry Youth Activists #FacebookHasNoStandards

Young disabled activists take on social media giant Facebook, to stop disability hate and ableism online.

The Campaign

Coventry Youth Activist’s (CYA) #FacebookHasNoStandards campaign wants to change the way disability hate and ableism is handled by social media platforms. There was a 52% increase in online disability hate crime online in 2021, yet attempts to report posts were usually met with the same response – that they did not breach Facebook’s Community Standards. CYA’s view was that, if Facebook had any standards, they would not allow hateful, ableist posts to remain on their platform.

CYA want Facebook to make the platform safer for disabled people. They have asked Facebook to remove ableist comments and posts, to highlight and ‘box-over’ reported posts and comments whilst they are investigated, and to invite a CYA team member to join the Facebook oversight board.

CYA worked with allies and local government to influence the Online Safety Bill. Their aim was to ensure that disabled people were protected, their concerns were included in this important legislation, and social media companies became more accountable.

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awards

Photos from CYA’s action outside Facebook HQ in London. Photo credit: Slawomir Furgalski

It’s so exciting and an honour to be shortlisted, especially as this category as the David and Goliath award suits CYA so well.’’

Joey Mander

awards

Photos from CYA’s action outside Facebook HQ in London. Photo credit: Slawomir Furgalski

It’s so exciting and an honour to be shortlisted, especially as this category as the David and Goliath award suits CYA so well.’’

Joey Mander

The Change

They decided to take on the corporate giant and secured a meeting with Facebook (something that many larger organisations have failed to do). However, after this, all communication stopped. Undeterred, they continued their fight with a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party outside the London HQ – inviting Facebook to sit down with them and talk.

They have also turned their attention to ensuring that issues facing people with disabilities are not ignored as part of the Online Safety Bill, meeting MPs and Peers to share their views.

The difference the campaign has had on the young people in the group has been huge. Young people with anxiety, who would often find social situations overwhelming, stood outside Facebook HQ sharing their own story in front of a crowd on a megaphone. Young people with learning disabilities, often excluded by society, ran online meetings with people in positions of power to hold them to account.

CYA gave a stronger voice to young disabled people in the UK. Their Facebook action saw 87 people stand alongside them, 52 of them disabled.

 

The Future

CYA will be monitoring the progress of the Online Safety Bill as it makes its way through parliament and will continue to challenge social media companies about the way they handle abuse online. Their wish is for a better world where disabled people have a place and are respected, so they will continue to relentlessly push forward their campaign, no matter what barriers they face.

Who else was involved?

  • Stephanie Wong – Act Build Change
  • Richard Hayhow – Open Theatre Company
  • Richard Wilson – Stop Funding Hate
  • Kyle Taylor – Fair Vote UK
  • Katherine Sladden – Breakthrough
  • Taiwo Owatemi MP

Joey from CYA sharing his story outside of Facebook HQ. Photo credit: Slawomir Furgalski

Photos from CYA’s action outside Facebook HQ in London. Photo credit: Slawomir Furgalski

Some of CYA try to deliver their asks to Facebook HQ. Photo credit: Slawomir Furgalski