A Facebook group accused of "praying" for the death of President Barack Obama has raised controversy online, with many calling for Facebook to remove the group as "offensive speech."
The group, which lists its location as "Marysville, OH, 43040," currently has over 1 million members--Facebook users who say they "like" the group. It includes an album of anti-Obama imagery uploaded by the group's members--what Facebook labels "fan photos--that show the president against a communist flag, juxtaposed with insulting and derisive captions, or even a cartoon "associating Obama to Hitler."
The group is called, "DEAR LORD, THIS YEAR YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE ACTOR, PATRICK SWAYZIE. YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE ACTRESS, FARAH FAWCETT. YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE SINGER, MICHAEL JACKSON. I JUST WANTED TO LET YOU KNOW, MY FAVORITE PRESIDENT IS BARACK OBAMA. AMEN."
Geekosystem notes that the title is "likely a riff on a letter circulating New Jersey teachers' unions earlier this month that employed similar language with respect to (Republican) governor Chris Christie. The president of the New Jersey Education Association went on to issue a formal apology for the email."
Another group, "Petition to remove Facebook group praying for President Obama's death," has been created to denounce the anti-Obama group and advocate for its removal. The group, which has just over 650,000 members, is asking users to "Please act to encourage facebook to remove the page praying for the death of President Obama," and lists three steps Facebook users can take.
Facebook has repeatedly come under fire for hosting Facebook pages many find inappropriate and offensive.
Facebook's procedure for dealing with potentially offensive groups is pretty murky. Facebook has stated in the past that it takes seriously the free speech of its groups, even potentially offensive ones: A number of Facebook groups praising Joe Stack, the man who crashed a small plane into a government building in February, are still alive and well.
Controversy erupted in September 2009 after users discovered a Facebook poll that asked whether President Obama should be killed.