Secret Service Investigates Facebook Obama Poll

On Monday, September 28 2009, Facebook announced that it is working with the U.S. Secret Service in their investigation into the online poll that asked whether President Obama deserved to be killed. The Secret Service is looking to identify the individual behind the survey.

The Facebook poll, created over the weekend using a third-party application that lets users create and conduct their own surveys, asked users “Should Obama be killed?”, with the options of Yes, No, Maybe, and “If he cuts my health care”.

More than 750 Facebook users cast votes before the company disabled the application. As an outside developer controls the software, Facebook was forced to disable the entire program, saying that it will remain so until the developer can assure Facebook that the survey has been removed and policies and procedures have been put in place to handle such situations in the future.

“Of course we are offended by the content of the poll but objectionable ideas are in the world and, unfortunately, manifest on Facebook,” Barry Schnitt, Facebook spokesperson, told AFP.

The poll was created sometime over the weekend, although when has not been disclosed. Facebook disabled the application as soon as users made the company aware of the survey. Soon thereafter the Secret Service opened their investigation.

Some, in response to the poll, are yelling racism; others as an example of the heightened emotions incited by the health care debate. Whichever it may be, the incident serves to highlight the fine balance many companies are forced to strike when involved with user-generated content.

Ironically, in its latest blog posting, dated September 22 2009 and titled “The Role of Technology in Promoting Tolerance”, guest blogger Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the Associate Dean of the Los Angeles Simon Wiesenthal Center for and Museum of Tolerance, discusses the power of social networking sites and modern technology in fostering and promoting understanding and tolerance.

 

Some information for this report provided by AFP and Bloomberg News.