Memes — photos with funny (and sometimes offensive) captions — often spread through Facebook like wildfire. But Australians aren’t laughing at the Facebook page of Aboriginal Memes, which the social network recently shut down amidst claims of racism. However, a copycat page has already opened and is gaining popularity.
The page depicted Aborigines (native Australians) as drunks and welfare cheats. A Facebook spokesperson reached out to AllFacebook, offering this explanation of the controversy:
We recognize the public concern that controversial meme Pages that Australians have created on Facebook have caused. Facebook does not share these views, but while incredibly distasteful, this Page currently does not violate our terms. Facebook is a service devoted to helping people share and making the world more open and connected. We believe that sharing information, and the openness that results, invites conversation, debate and greater understanding. At the same time, we recognize that some content that is shared may be controversial, offensive, or even illegal in some countries. While we do not remove this type of content from the site entirely unless it violates our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, out of respect for local laws, we may restrict access to content that violates local laws. We note that the Australian Communications and Media Authority are undertaking an investigation of these Pages and we are engaged in a constructive dialogue with the Australian Race Discrimination Commissioner.
A Facebook page has popped up in protest of the Aboriginal Memes page — Shut Down Aboriginal Memes. Facebook users down under are outraged that someone would create memes that cast fellow residents in such a bad light. A user on the site noted that the memes page re-emerged, this time titled Abo Memes. It already has more than 2,000 likes, but users on the Shut Down page are working to get it removed.
According to Australian Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, his office contacted Facebook to shut the page down. The site replied that the page is classified as “controversial humor,” and that it can’t be removed by Facebook. Conroy told the AP he believes that the page is maintained by a 16-year-old Australian boy who is using the U.S.-based Facebook service to get around native anti-discrimination laws.
At the recent Facebook Ecosystem Crunchup, Director of Developer Products Mark Purdy said that the company does not shut down pages or applicationss unless they explicitly violate the site’s terms of service.
Readers: Should Facebook shut the page down, or it is infringing upon freedom of speech?
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.