Facebook takes down groups supporting Austin crash pilot

Friday, February 19, 2010

Image of Mr. Stack in 2006.
Image: Billy Eli.

On the popular social networking website Facebook, various groups commemorating disgruntled pilot Joseph Andrew Stack were formed on Thursday evening. Earlier that day, in what has been described as an act of "domestic terrorism," Stack intentionally crashed his small passenger plane into an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) office building in Austin, Texas. Stack is one of two reported fatalities; the other is an IRS employee.

On the information page of the first group named "The Joe 'Take My Pound Of Flesh' Stack Anti-IRS Fan Page," one administrator wrote, "[This page is] dedicated to a man, frustrated as so many of us are with our corrupt, inept government, sacrificed his life to make a statement. Will history see him as a patriot or terrorist? Depends on who is doing the writing." This particular group had approximately 250 members.

Another group called "The Philosophy of Joe Stack" apparently came out against the attack, yet sympathized with its reasons: "This page is NOT to glorify his actions, but simply to say that after reading his note, we can agree with...Joe Stacks' thoughts." However, one member went as far to suggest that the United States "need[ed] a revolution" and "voting for a Democrat or a Republican is not revolutionary, it is big business as usual."

A third group titled "Joseph Andrew Stack, we salute thee" was supposedly against violence towards others. One administrator did write, "We hope that everyone is okay and accounted for. It is our belief that his intention was not to hurt anyone, but just to prove a point."

On the wall of a fourth group, known simply as "Joseph Andrew Stack," creator Emily Walters of Louisville, Kentucky, wrote: "Finally an American man took a stand against our tyrannical government that no longer follows the constitution and is[sic] turned its back on its founding fathers and the beliefs this country was founded on."

Facebook's current logo.
Image: Facebook, Inc.

"That so many have already contributed to Facebook page[s] as 'fans' of this terrorist attack on public servants is a truly appalling expression of extremism, which Americans will overwhelmingly reject," Democratic Congressman Lloyd Doggett of Texas told The Politico regarding the creation and subsequent growth of said pages.

Facebook's Statement of Rights and Responsibilities says that its users are prohibited from "post[ing] content that is hateful, threatening, pornographic, or that contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence." Facebook has decided that it would be appropriate under said policy to delete these four groups.

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