A few weeks ago, I created a facebook page called, Petition to remove facebook group praying for President Obama’s death, which is currently coming up on 875,000 members. In a very short time, nearly 875,000 souls have come together to be counted in opposition to hate speech in social media.
Some people joined because they just don’t think it’s funny to joke about praying for anyone’s death, especially that of a husband and father. Many are offended because they are patriots. They might be quite interested in voting President Obama out of office next round, but are still sickened that anyone would pray for his death, even in jest. Many are Christians who see blasphemy in the joke itself. Some are outraged by the blatant racism of much of the content posted on that page. Some are simply true-blue supporters of President Obama who just plain don’t like to see him picked on. There are people of various faiths, political persuasions, cultural, ethnic and racial backgrounds, all able to agree on a need for nonviolence and civility in this rich and beautiful country. That is tremendously inspiring.
However, facebook isn’t listening. ABC News reported in a piece by Ki Mae Heussner on 4/20/2010:
Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes said in a statement that though the anti-Obama page “may be considered distasteful and objectionable to some,” it doesn’t violate Facebook’s policies.
Facebook, respectfully, you are wrong. Images and content on that page are in clear and direct violation of your terms of service. Heussner quotes Noyes further:
“We’re sensitive to content that includes pornography, bullying, hate speech, and actionable threats of violence and we react quickly to remove content that violates our policies when it is reported to us,” he said. “Facebook is highly self-regulating and leverages its more than 400 million users to keep an eye out for offensive content. We encourage users to report such content and we have a large team of professional reviewers who evaluate these reports and take action per our policies.”
You will not post content that: is hateful, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence. –Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities (Under #3. Safety, 7.)
As users, we must insist that facebook comply with its own terms of service and that other social media organizations accept responsibility for moderating content. For Pete’s sake, there are children present. Facebook has invited them to their party, beginning at age thirteen (not that any proof of age is required). We have repeatedly asked facebook to take down the offending page because it has become a forum for content which violates their stated rules. Here are just a few ugly examples:
You will not use Facebook to do anything unlawful, misleading, malicious, or discriminatory. –Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities (Under #3. Safety, 10.)
The creators of the hate speech page have removed all identifying personal information. They use their computer screens as shields and their keyboards as weapons and they won’t be accountable for their words or their actions. If we want honor to keep her place in American society, we have to hold ourselves and our online communities to it. Sometimes that requires a pillory in the public square.
I have had hundreds of messages from people all over the country and beyond, most of them supportive. I’ve also had mail which has been of a distinctly different flavor, some of which has come from those who mistakenly thought I was the creator of the hate speech page. There is nothing quite like a friendly little death threat to make one’s day. I’ve been condemned to hell and called names (redneck bitch, ignorant piece of sh*t, instrument of the devil, and my personal favorite—douche bag of the year). I’ve also been threatened: You better never come to Texas.
As my new friend, Jim, so perfectly put it, “If we EVER stoop to the level where we begin throwing turdlettes back at ANY of these people -we will have *immediately* lost.” Exactly, Readers. It is fine to disagree with someone but to attack them personally or to threaten them, even indirectly? What kind of society do we want to live in? In the one I want, that sh*t just ain’t cool.
Individuals like those who created the “prayer” page shouldn’t be allowed to leave a flaming bag of excrement on the front step, ring the doorbell, and leave. Users shouldn’t be allowed to do things like this: A woman posted to the the hate group’s wall, civilly objecting to the ugliness. In response, members of that group mined the photographs posted on her facebook page and photoshopped her face onto a pornographic image of a white woman having anal sex with a black man. They also took the face of her young son and pasted it onto that of an onlooker.
You will not bully, intimidate, or harass any user. Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities (Under #3. Safety, 6.)
The image has been removed, but the page that hosted it—the page that houses an entire cave overflowing with content and images which are in direct violation of facebook’s stated terms of service—remains.
Facebook, what gives?