Facebook Page Implying a Call for Obama’s Death Stirs Controversy

Posted April 23, 2010 at 12:12pm

Updated: 4:57 p.m.

A Facebook page that more than 1 million people “like” seems to pray for President Barack Obama’s death.

“DEAR LORD, THIS YEAR YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE ACTOR, PATRICK SWAYZIE [sic]. YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE ACTRESS, FARAH FAWCETT. YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE SINGER, MICHAEL JACKSON. I JUST WANTED TO LET YOU KNOW, MY FAVORITE PRESIDENT IS BARACK OBAMA. AMEN,” the page reads.

The page has a picture of the president superimposed over a Soviet flag with the text, “Vote for Obama Because Socialism Worked so Well for the USSR.”

The page’s creator remains anonymous, but the location is listed as Marysville, Ohio. It was created last week.

The text borrows the language of an e-mail that was sent by the Bergen County Teachers Union to its members earlier this month asking that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) be taken by the Lord. The memo leaked to the public and generated some controversy and an apology from the group.

But on Facebook, users who like the page are taking to its wall to defend it as funny.

“Lighten up people it’s a joke,” wrote Art Altick, who lives in Ohio.

The Facebook page swelled from about 500,000 “likes” Thursday to more than 1 million Friday afternoon. As of midday Friday, it was growing by hundreds of likes per minute.

But some users were not amused.

“This is the worst group site ever! You should be ashamed!! Spreaders of hate!” wrote Nick Williams of Omaha, Neb., on the page’s wall. “It is blasphemy to call on God to cause hurt / death to anyone!”

A counter-petition called “Petition to remove Facebook group praying for President Obama’s death” was created. It had more that 100,000 followers on Friday afternoon. The petition asks members to report the offensive page to Facebook management and promotes a “Logout for civility” during which Facebook users are encouraged to log out of the site from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. Saturday in protest.

“While it may be considered distasteful and objectionable to some, the Facebook page in question does not violate our policies,” said Andrew Noyes, Facebook’s manager of public policy communications. “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. 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.”