In the days following the tragic Aurora, Colorado killings, approximately 30 Facebook pages that pay tribute to the killer have appeared. One of the pages, which has more than 800 followers, is written in Holme’s authorial voice. The following is a recent unedited post from that page:
“Whatever you have to say to me, I don’t care. Whenever you report me. This page isn’t affected. (I’ve been reported over like a billion times, and nothing has happened.) Also, I don’t believe in karma, and I don’t believe in hell. Please keep this in mind when you post. Unless it’s something smart or funny, please know, I’m just going to laugh at you and all you’re doing is wasting your time.”
Fred Wolens, a spokesperson for Facebook, indicated that the page “while incredibly distasteful, doesn’t violate our terms.” Unless the page posts credible threats against specific people or attempts to incite violence, Wolens said that Facebook will not remove it. However, Wolens did indicate that the page is not representative of Facebook’s views, and that the vast majority of Facebook users have shown support for the victims and their families:
“We are heartened that the vast majority of activity on Facebook surrounding this tragedy has been focused on helping the community cope and beginning the healing process in the wake of these events.”
Unfortunately, since these pages simultaneously comply with the terms of service and offend a large percentage of the user base, Facebook is caught in a difficult situation. If the social network removes the page, freedom-of-speech advocates will protest the removal. However, allowing pages to stay online that pay tribute to a cold-blooded killer is generating negative publicity and enraging a large number of Facebook users.
Do you think Facebook should allow the pages to stay online or remove them? Why?