"I have another idea about how Mark Zuckerberg can make the world a better place."

And it would help all women and girls.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has a daughter. And to celebrate, he has written an open letter to her, pledging to give away billions of dollars in the hope she will grow up in a better world.

It’s a very moving piece, and an extraordinary gesture from the young billionaire. One of the world’s most high-profile entrepreneurs is making a statement about the true power of wealth, and saying it has nothing to do with conspicuous consumption. Zuckerbeg is in the rare and remarkable position of being able to make an actual difference, and should be celebrated for it.

And yet I can’t help but wonder why a man who is willing to give away his billions in the hope of making life better for his daughter has not made one very simple change which could make a real world improvement to his daughter’s life as she grows up. And the lives of millions of other women.

I’m talking about Facebook finally taking a stance against the sort of online abuse that his daughter (and her friends) are almost certainly going to experience once they reach adolescence, just by virtue of their gender.

Facebook is not the only platform where women experience harassment. Watch prominent women reading mean Tweets about themselves. (Post continues after video).


I’m talking about the type of sexual harassment and misogynistic abuse that literally millions of women and teen girls have already experienced while on Facebook.

Right now, 62 per cent of online abuse in the US happens on Facebook, and sexual harassment of women and girls is the most common form of that abuse.

Facebook is by far the largest social media platform in the world.

And we don’t have to look to America to see staggering examples of online misogyny. Last week, Australian writer Clementine Ford published the profile names of some of the many men who had sent her vile abusive messages on Facebook. This week, an Australian man lost his job for abusing Ford after he was reported to his employer.

The viewpoint should be clear: abuse is abuse.

Time and again, female commentators have urged and pleaded with Facebook to develop better policies on gendered abuse, and time and time again Facebook has failed.

Time and again women have questioned guidelines that seem to consider a photograph of a woman breastfeeding offensive, but don’t act on complaints about vile sexual slurs.

Facebook’s official policy on this is that:

We don’t tolerate bullying or harassment. We allow you to speak freely on matters and people of public interest, but remove content that appears to purposefully target private individuals with the intention of degrading or shaming them. This content includes, but is not limited to:   Pages that identify and shame private individuals, Images altered to degrade private individuals, Photos or videos of physical bullying posted to shame the victim, Sharing personal information to blackmail or harass people, and Repeatedly targeting other people with unwanted friend requests or messages.

In practice, the application of this policy is a much more complex beast, with abusive comments — which we will not amplify by reproducing here — frequently making it through the net.


It’s true that when men have daughters, they often seek to change the world and make it a more equitable place for their girls. But charity begins at home.

More women on the abuse they have experienced online. (Post continues after video).

So if Mark Zuckerberg wants to open his chequebook to combat issues like disease and famine he should be congratulated and encouraged to do this. This is truly commendable.

But if he genuinely wants to make the world a better place for his daughter, then there is something far simpler he can do. Something that will have practical benefits for her life as well as the lives of millions of other women and girls.

It’s something that could even be done by Christmas.

And it wouldn’t cost him his billions. Just a bit of courage and backbone.

Do you agree that Facebook should show zero-tolerance towards abusive commenters?