Twattish prudes and Playboy bunnies: Just another day at the Diva Facebook page

Jewellery retailer Diva’s Facebook fan page continues to be a hotbed of (barely moderated) comments about their new Playboy line that I talked about last week. Unfortunately, what could have been a forum for debate quickly became a cyberbully’s paradise. A handful of fans of the retailer – and many more trolls who seemed to be on the page simply to insult people – filled the page with taunts.

I posted the following comment on the page and also emailed it to Diva’s head office:

Diva your FB page has becoming increasingly filled with personal attacks and obscene language (not to mention it appears to now be haunted by young men who wish to insult women). This is a direct result of you introducing a porn-inspired range. It now means this page is no longer suitable for young girls. How do you feel about this? And, as this is your public profile, do you intend to monitor this page and moderate comments? Finally, based on the comments here it seems very obvious that the vast majority of CONSUMERS (ie: not young boys or 1-2 young women who are very brand loyal) now say they have lost respect for YOUR brand and feel alienated by this marketing decision. How do you intend to win back consumer confidence? Looking forward to listening to your responses.

My comment got 50 ‘likes’ yet I am still waiting for a response from Diva. So are scores of other people who went on the Facebook page and politely and rationally explained their concerns about Diva marketing a porn-branded product to tweens and teens.

I received a lot of positive comments but also the now almost-obligatory obscene comments (which came from a young guy who admitted he just likes stirring up strangers on the net).

The company was painfully slow to do anything about the hurtful, bullying insults all over their Facebook page. I don’t want to repeat any of the actual posts here – I don’t want to give the trolls any more oxygen – but the blog Corporate Failings summed it all up like this:

Insults relating to concerned customer’s gender, intelligence, sexual orientation, race, disabilities & weight have spewed forth unrelentingly.

One ‘fan’ even went as far as taunting a concerned customer suggesting they’d do well to take their own life because of their appearance. Diva was no-where to be found . . .

Diva finally began removing most of the worst bullying and adding their own comment:

Hi we like hearing your views but we are not ok with personal attacks on each other, so we will be deleting any posts that are considered bullying. Feel free to post a cleaner version as we are happy for you to have your say. x

The thing is, there are still some very hurtful comments on the page – the usual stuff about weight, age, appearance, oh, and calling us “twattish prudes”. Meanwhile, we are all still waiting for an actual response by Diva to our concerns. After waiting four days, this is all we got, and some pictures of flowery brooches and headpieces:

Hey, sorry we haven’t been able to respond sooner, we didn’t expect to be so busy over the last few days. As you’ve probably seen by now we’ve had heaps of FB comments, tweets and news stuff and on top of that we had a long wet weekend here in Sydney.

So now we are catching up on all of the things that we are cramming in to 4 days! One things for sure, we love our fashion, it always comes with lots of emotions, always changes and moves so fast.

So we know you are all looking for the next trend. We are loving that it’s spring carnival and we’re totes excited about seeing all your fashion on the field this year.

Here are some great pieces perfect for the races!

I love Caitlin Roper’s response:

So just to clarify, Diva’s official response was: Look, pretty flowers!

It is deeply concerning to me that the internet, which holds so much promise as a way to connect and share ideas and beliefs, can so easily become a venue for hateful speech designed to intimidate and silence. And all too often, it is women who are on the receiving end, something I have written about before, in Sticks and Stones. Facebook itself has sat on its hands while people set up fan pages celebrating rape and other types of violence against women.

I went of Kerri-anne recently to talk about my own experiences as the subject of an online hate campaign on Facebook against me after I made a comment about girls kickboxing. A prominent member of the kickboxing community said he wanted to punch me in the face and encouraged thousands of Facebook users to join in on the abuse. I ended up personally ringing a number of these people and confronting them about it, which was very interesting because a number of them turned around and apologised profusely, not quite realising the extent of their actions. Some ended up issuing public apologies.

Even when bullying is happening in cyberworld, we can – and should – stand up to the bullies.

Someone who is doing just that is 14-year-old Sydney girl Julia Weber, who has released a book, ILY (I Love You) – One Teen Girl’s Guide to a Bully-Proof Adolescence. Julia has been subject to bullying, including cyberbullying by a group of boys at a school dormitory. What upset her most was that only a few boys were doing the actual cyberbullying but the rest, about three-quarters of the boys, just stood by and did nothing to stop the bullies. “It’s those people – the bystanders – who we have to change,” says Julia.

I couldn’t agree more.

For tips on combating bullies, and some helpful links, see Bullying: It’s time to focus on solutions.

6 thoughts on “Twattish prudes and Playboy bunnies: Just another day at the Diva Facebook page

  1. Julie Gale says:

    Thanks for your great post and persistence on this issue Danielle. Diva’s inaction is quite spectacular. It is shameful corporate irresponsibility. I spoke to a young saleswoman in Diva over the weekend and she was very uncomfortable with the playboy brand in the store and having to sell it – particularly with such a young target market. Diva – peddling young woman to sell the major brand of the pornography industry to young girls. Spectacular!

  2. Cath says:

    I spoke to staff at my local store as well last week. Voiced my disappointment and told them I was boycotting, and they whole heartedly agreed with me. I won’t say which store as I don’t want ramifications for them. I can’t believe the attitudes they have taken. Quite socially irresponsible, in many ways.

  3. Caitlin says:

    Diva continues to showcase their lack of professionalism and corporate responsibility. Once again, while greedy retailers and marketers push adult or sexualized products on girls, it is apparently the parent’s job to ‘just say no’ or explain concepts that otherwise would not yet be discussed.

    I copied this quote from Consuming Kids: The Commercialization of Childhood (thanks for suggesting, Catherine Manning!)
    “It’s akin to a owner of a large fleet of trucks announcing, ‘Our fleet of trucks, from now on, is going to be barreling down the road, especially where young children are, at 150 miles per hour. Parents, watch out, it’s your job to make sure your children don’t get hurt’. No-one would argue that the owner of the fleet of trucks doesn’t bear any responsibility at all.”

    And thanks for the shout out! : )

  4. kate says:

    Wow. Julie and Kath – if the staff at the stores feel that way then hopefully they are making it known to higher management. Staff at a jewellery store shouldn’t have to deal with a moral dilemma in just going to work every day! I know exactly how it feels because I worked at a Newsagent when I was 17 and always felt awful about having to sell p*** mags and cigarettes.

  5. Francesca says:

    Thanks for being so persistent with this Danni. Diva’s response was very dissapointing.
    I do find it somewhat amusing that Cath visited a store and the salespeople that worked there didn’t even like the products. How does this translate to sales? I wonder just how little of the playboy plastic will end up selling when this is all over?…If Diva doesn’t listen to staff and customers they might as well get out the discount guns! Sex sells…maybe not?!

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