Onion rings uniting against Justin Bieber or pickled Nickelback opponents are allowed to roam free on Facebook, but a poodle in a tinfoil hat campaigning to acquire more fans than Glenn Beck crosses a line of decency. This the latest verdict from the social networking company, who slapped the fan page “Can This Poodle Wearing a Tinfoil Hat Get More Fans than Glenn Beck?” with a “publish block” that prevents them from recruiting new members or advertising the page on Facebook.
The page’s founder, Dale Blank, has called First Amendment shenanigans on the company for “muzzling” Bob the Wonder Poodle, but warned against vast right-wing conspiracy theories. But given the puzzling explanation from Facebook, should Blank be rethinking his instinct that the silence of the poodle is an inside job?
Bob the Wonder Poodle, whose real name is Bitsy, first stirred the ire of the Facebook censorship gods on February 18th, when Blank found that he was unable to advertise his group on the site. After an initially nebulous claim that they were unable to explain the censorship because of “technical and security issues,” Facebook responded to MSNBC’s Red Tape Chronicles with a statement claiming that sites that are usually partially restricted get that way because they do not represent an entity eligible for a fan page:
Pages are meant for entities like public figures, musical artists, businesses, and organizations so they can share information, interact with fans, and create a highly engaging presence on Facebook… We restrict the publishing rights of Pages that impersonate other entities, represent generic concepts, spam users, or otherwise violate our Pages guidelines. Unless they also violate our content policies, however, these Pages are left up so that those who are interested in seeing their updates and interacting with them can still do so.
They also require that there is a link to an official website as proof that the page is meant for a legitimate person or business. Bob/Bitsy fits the bill– Blank bought him BobtheWonderPoodle.com to avoid the problem. But it wasn’t enough. And now Blank, whose entire purpose in creating the page was to combat conspiracy theorists, is doing his best to keep accusations of Facebook being “in the tank” for the conservative idol under wraps. Truth be told, he doesn’t even care about Beck all that much, he just needed someone obvious with which to make his point. Blank tells MSNBC that he’s “not coming from a place where I think everything is a conspiracy… I’m not so much anti-Glenn Beck as I am pro rational thought.”
For now he’s choosing to believe that the speed at which the group grew is what caught Facebook’s eye, and that they are merely going through security procedes to make sure the page is neither spam nor a hate site. “There seems to be a crackdown on anything that shows rapid growth,” he noted, although he is still perplexed by why his group– one of the few with political spin in the “Can this [mundane item] Get More Fans Than [obnoxious celebrity]?” constellation of Facebook pages– was singled out for abusing Facebook Terms of Service.
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