Over the past few days I’ve had a few disturbing links sent to me via my Facebook wall regarding tasteless pages and groups on Facebook. You know the type of thing, you’ve probably had similar ones sent to you. Pages of jokes about dead babies, jokes about people with cancer deserving to die. Friends have sent these links to me in outrage, wanting me to join their campaign to rid Facebook of them. Report the pages, comment on the pages and show my disapproval.
This is where my problem begins. I first stumbled upon the “Dead Baby Jokes” page a few days after losing our son. It was the small hours of the morning, I couldn’t sleep, I came downstairs and logged onto the internet in the hope of finding some sort of comfort somewhere. Instead of finding comfort, I found that page. It infuriated me, it made me sad, it made me cry. At the time of finding it the page was relatively new and only had a few hundred “likes”, but within days the few hundred had grown to about 30,000. I couldn’t fathom how 30,000 people could actually like this. Then it all became clear, to comment on the page you had to “like” it first, a clever move by the creator. So the bulk of the 30,000 “likes” were actually people who hated it and who wanted to express their disgust. What they didn’t grasp though was that by responding in this way they were actually highlighting and drawing more attention to the page and in turn it attracted the troll like people, the ones who wanted to come and laugh at the people who were disgusted.
The comments became more depraved and the jokes began to have pictures of dead babies appearing with them, it was sickening. Still people came though, liked the page, then registered their anger. I was shouting at my laptop screen , urging them not to do that. Some of the people were posting personal stories of tragedy and being ripped apart and made a joke out of for mentioning it.
The creators of the page were two 15-year-old boys from New York, they had stupidly left their personal information, including their school on the info page! Needless to say hundreds of people emailed their school and a few days later the boys details disappeared. The page, however, continued to exist. Why. Simply because it doesn’t break any Facebook regulations. They did have to remove some of the pictures, because they were stolen from people’s profiles, but other than that, they weren’t doing anything illegal or wrong. The page has been reported thousands of times, but the Facebook stance hasn’t changed. It is distasteful and yes it is sickening, but it doesn’t break the rules and if you don’t like it, don’t go there.
I can’t believe Facebook forced a breastfeeding page to remove their pictures of mothers breastfeeding or make the group private, but yet they won’t force this page to become a closed or private group. However, as much as it galls and upsets me and believe me it does, I do understand where they are coming from. Just because I find the content offensive and hurtful, doesn’t mean that it should be closed. I almost can’t believe I typed that, but I did. I reported the page and vowed never to put my nose near it again and I never have. That was almost 4 years ago and the page is still going strong and still receiving Facebook and media attention. I’ve read stories in magazines lately of mothers campaigning to have it removed. People are still going there, still liking the page just so they can comment. So now apparently the page has over 60,000 “likes”, it’s daft, honestly. Stop liking the page, the more likes a page gets the less likely Facebook are to ever close it.
I know people get fired up and want to express their hurt and anger, but all they are doing is leaving themselves wide open to be laughed at by these page creators. These people don’t care how upset you are, they don’t care if your baby died, in fact they will laugh in your “face” about it if you mention it in your comment. So just don’t even go there. Don’t attract attention to these hateful pages.
The best thing to do, is ignore it, don’t go there, don’t read it, don’t share it with friends so they can report it and don’t get involved with trying to make these page creators see the error of their ways. You are wasting your time and you will ultimately be the one left hurt and upset.
There are cancer pages floating around too, equally disgusting and sickening. I haven’t even opened any of the links to those. I learnt a bitter lesson from the baby jokes page. I regret the night that I let my grief allow me to even open that page and read it. I know that if I were only stumbling across it now 4 years later, I would never have opened the link, I would never have looked. It is not that I don’t care about supporting my friends spreading the word to report these pages. Their intentions are good and honourable, unlike the people who create these things, it’s just that it truly is pointless to get completely upset by something Facebook will not change. Mass reporting doesn’t work for these things, because as I said earlier, although we are appalled and disgusted, no rules have been broken.
Again as sickening and infuriating as I and many others find these pages, I do also believe in freedom of speech and freedom of expression. Yes I would never actively use that liberty to hurt or harm others, but I also can’t believe in it and then want to force others to retract their speech or expression, no matter how disgustingly awful I find it to be. The bottom line is that it isn’t racial, sexually explicit or threatening, it is just their version of sick “humour”. So the answer for me is to ignore it and all the others like it. I am totally aware that they exist, I just use my freedom of choice, to not read them. I would rather live this way than live in an Orwell 1984 society, controlled by the “Thought Police”. Because heaven knows, we are slowing creeping that way, with nanny state mentality, mass cctv and the monitoring of emails, telephone calls and forum use.
Self preservation is my new internet mantra. If I think I really won’t like the content of something, I just don’t click anymore. It also helps my raging blood pressure stay under control!!!
Just think before you click, if you think you won’t like the content and it will make you angry or upset, don’t click. Happy surfing everyone, be careful where you click.