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Facebook Fan Page Promotes Cycle Violence

The first lesson I learned way back in the days of computer bulletin boards, way before anyone thought of the Internet, was Don’t Feed the Trolls.

Trolls are folks who post inflammatory or extraneous topics with the intention of provoking outrage and / or disrupting normal orderly discussions. Drop a helmet comment in just about any bike group, and you’ll soon have the group snapping at each other like a school of sharks going after chum thrown from a fishing boat, for example.

Bike groups have been gnashing their collective teeth at a new hate group Facebook fan page with the name, “There’s a perfectly good path right next to the road you stupid cyclist.” The page leads off with a picture of a cyclist being doored and a warning “My car is hard and I’m not slowing down.”

Bike Hate Fan Page

I did a pretty good job of ignoring it

I’ve just about given up on reading comments to news media stories involving bicycles. They quickly devolve into shouting matches between jerks on two wheels and jerks on four wheels and accomplish nothing. Media outlets, that used to require signed letters to the editor with IDs that were verified before printin, now care more about hits and traffic count than reasoned dialog, so they rarely step in.

Here an example from Iowa and North Carolina.

The road rage page is every bit as bad as described

Yep, it was as odious as everyone said. Some cyclists joined to provide a counterpoint, but they only raised the volume. Another group set up fan page to petition that the first one be shut down.

Many of us asked Facebook to remove the page for for violating the terms of service, specifically:

  • 6. You will not bully, intimidate, or harass any user.
  • 7. You will not post content that is hateful, threatening, pornographic, or that contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence.

The hate site is still up and has 34,907 members (up 300 from last night).

The pro-biker page has 27,699 members, up 1,829 from last night.

Hit the advertisers

Someone on one of the bike forums had a good suggestion: if Facebook won’t take the page down because of user protests, maybe they’d listen to the advertisers who show up in the sidebar of the page.

It’s not a really practical idea because the ads rotate, so it’s not like an advertiser KNOWS where his or her ad is going to show up, but I tried an experiment.

See the car ad at the top right of the screen shot?

I sent the following email:

To: custsvc@einsure.com
subject: Is this a site you want your ad next to?
From: Ken Steinhoff <ken@steinhoff.net>
Date: Sat, 09 Jan 2010 18:38:33 -0500

Facebook has a Fan Group that encourages violence to bicyclists. I noticed that your ad was displayed on it.

I encourage you to visit the page, read some of the comments, including the originator’s, “My car is hard, and I’m not slowing down!” accompanied by a photo of a cyclist being doored, and see if you think you want your company’s name associated with such content.

As an advertiser, you might have more influence than the cycling community in getting the page taken down.

After all, you are an auto insurance company. Wonder what the payout would be if one of your customers was a commenter on this site and ran over a cyclist?

Here’s an example of some of the content


Read the comments that follow the picture.

[Note: the link I had to the photo and comments has expired or it has been removed. The comments were more disturbing than the picture, if you can believe that. The photo is small because of offensive language.]

Thanks.

I’ll let you know if I hear anything from them.

Monday morning update

A Phred posted this update to the group:

It should be noted that while the group itself has not been removed, all the vicious postings by individuals that break the FB rules, have indeed disappeared. The group has now been overrun by cyclists and those who  stand by us. It has been reduced to mostly civil discussions, albeit, still  with some of the silly cursing and name calling, but just about all of the threatening content has been removed.

The name of the group is not in violation of FB rules, but some of the content is (was). That is why the group was not shut  down, and that is  why we must target specific posts in our reports to FB. What needs to be worked on now are the few  photos posted to the group that depict violence  toward bicyclists. We’ve almost got it licked!

7 comments to Facebook Fan Page Promotes Cycle Violence

  • Good job, Ken.

    I never thought that being an asshole could be considered a pre-existing condition.

  • Hi Ken

    I believe the group itself has now been removed from Facebook.

    Regards
    Andrew

  • Andrew,

    It’s still there, but it’s been overwhelmed by cyclists.

  • Hi Ken
    Another way to deal with this. Inform the public that the anti-cyclist facebook group is a terrorist organization. See what happened in a totally different situation.

    http://mashable.com/2010/01/12/facebook-terror-threat-lands-nj-students-in-custody-video/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Mashable+%28Mashable%29

  • Gary,

    Good point. I’m wondering what will happen the first time someone makes a bomb out of a bicycle like they’ve done in other countries.

    Will motorists give us a little more room when they’re passing or if it’ll be another excuse to ban bikes.

    (Gee, aren’t there an awful lot of car bombs in the world? Maybe THEY’RE a tool of terrorism.)

    I can remember a time when some kids in my high school got curious about what would happen if you flushed carbide down the toilet. (It creates an explosive gas is what happens.)

    When I was in grade school my buddies and I would put gunpowder eked out of shotgun shells into the cardboard tubes that came on clothes hangers and make rockets out of them.

    One day we got the bright idea to use a piece of pipe instead of a cardboard tube because the cardboard kept blowing up. Pipes were too strong to blow up, right?

    There’s a reason they call them “pipe bombs,” we found out. And we did all of that without the help of Abby Hoffman or the Internet.

    If a kid did that today, he’d get an all-expense-paid trip to Guantanamo.

  • Susan

    Ken,

    Smart approach you took in solving the problem. As a fellow cyclist, Thanks!

  • Lance

    That is horrible. Don’t people realize that they need to share the road with us bikers… it’s not just for cars, ya know!!