Raoul Moat, a U.K. murderer was recently given a public Facebook Page which honored the individual, titled “RIP Raoul Moat”. That Page became the subject of controversy and a focus of discussion during a parliamentary hearing recently, only days after Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, spoke with the Primer Minister over Skype Chat. The end result has been that the Page owner shut down the Page, but not before the press caught wind of the drama.
During a routine Parliamentary hearing yesterday, Prime Minister David Cameron was asked the following by Chris Heaton-Harris a parliament member:
Will the Prime Minister consider having another conference call with Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder of Facebook, whose site is currently hosting the group “RIP Raoul Moat”, where a whole host of anti-police statements are posted? Can the Prime Minister have a conversation with Mark Zuckerberg about removing this group?
The Prime Minister responded with the following:
My hon. Friend makes a very good point. As far as I can see, it is absolutely clear that Raoul Moat was a callous murderer-full stop, end of story-and I cannot understand any wave, however small, of public sympathy for this man. There should be sympathy for his victims, and for the havoc he wreaked in that community; there should be no sympathy for him.
Techcrunch then reached out to Facebook for a comment on the topic, to which Facebook offered a relatively long-winded response:
Raoul Moat has dominated public debate over the last week and it is clear that there are lots of different and opposing opinions, both about Moat himself and about the investigation which surrounds him. These debates are being held in newspapers, online across the Internet, between people in the pub, on the phone and at work.
Facebook is a place where people can express their views and discuss things in an open way as they can and do in many other places, and as such we sometimes find people discussing topics others may find distasteful, however that is not a reason in itself to stop a debate from happening. We have 26 million people on Facebook in the UK, each of which has their own opinion, and they are entitled to express their views on Facebook as long as their comments do not violate our terms. We believe that enabling people to have these different opinions and debate about a topic can help bring together lots of different views for a healthy discussion.
Further, and in contrast to the pub or the phone, Facebook offers tools for people to report material easily, so that we can quickly review and remove from the service anything that is against our terms.
Eventually the drama was ended by the administrator who had the Facebook Page shut down. While we’re not quite sure whether or not Facebook or another party reached out to the individual behind the page, the removal of it has ultimately ended the drama. However it’s not clear whether or not this minor flare up will create tension between the U.K. government and Facebook who are now working together to find new ways to reduce the country’s deficit.
It will be interesting to see how things evolve in the coming weeks and months.