All human life is to be seen on Facebook. Which, for some, is not necessarily a good thing.
Facebook has removed a poll asking "Should Obama be killed?" But not before at least 730 people took part in the poll. The poll offered four potential answers to the question: "Yes", "No", "Maybe," and "If he cuts my health care."
The Plum Line, a Washington Post site, reports that the Secret Service has begun an investigation into who might have been behind such an imaginative exercise. It appears that a blog called the Political Carnival first noticed the poll and alerted the Secret Service over the weekend.
Facebook is increasingly becoming a popular forum for all kinds of hateful speech--from Holocaust Denial Groups to anti-Muslim organizations. Groups purporting to hate specific individuals have also found a home on Facebook, and the company has not found it easy to keep up with the amount of policing that is required to cover more than 300 million members.
However, this poll will represent for many an entirely new dimension in human dementia. It will be interesting to see how quickly the source is located and who that source might turn out to be.
Facebook's Barry Schnitt told me in an e-mail that while the site doesn't comment on actions against individual users, "penalties for posting content in violation of our policies range from warnings to temporarily or permanently disabling accounts." He also confirmed that the site is working with the Secret Service but couldn't provide any details of their investigation.
As to the source of the poll, he said: "The third-party application that enabled an individual user to create the offensive poll was brought to our attention this morning (Monday). It was immediately suspended while the inappropriate content could be removed by the developer and until such time as the developer institutes better procedures to monitor their user-generated content."