Facebook Adopts Zero Tolerance for its Anti-Gay Bullies

By Matt Baume
|  Thursday, Oct 21, 2010  |  Updated 12:17 PM PDT
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Facebook Adopts Zero Tolerance for its Anti-Gay Bullies

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Angel D. Hernandez (left) and Johnny Foam (right) were also legally married.

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Facebook is taking a hard line on anti-gay bullying, adopting strict enforcement procedures for anyone caught harassing LGBT teens.

The move was touched off by hateful comments on a memorial for young suicide victims. Over the last few weeks, the country has been rocked by a wave of kids killing themselves after facing abuse related to their orientation or perceived orientation.

Among the victims were a 13-year-old in Tehachapi, California.

When memorials to the kids appeared online, some Facebook users left cruel, abusive messages. They may have been spurred on by religious and political leaders. In the midst of the teen suicide epidemic, a Mormon leader referred to homosexuality as "immoral." The Tehachapi victim lived in the district of Roy Ashburn, a Senator renowned for his homophobic comments until he himself was outed as gay.

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation reached out to Facebook to address a rash of anti-gay comments on the social networking site, and the company responded quickly. Working with GLAAD, Facebook has implemented new procedures to clamp down on anti-gay harassment. Users found to have left bullying messages will have their harassment removed and could be kicked off of the site.

It may not be enough to completely stem the tide of anti-gay abuse, but it's a not-insignificant step in the fight to stop LGBT youth suicide.

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