Facebook Polices Religious Intolerance
Millions Have Viewed Pages Offensive to Sikhs
By Anju Kaur, SikhNN staff writer, Washington Bureau
Posted: Wednesday, December 22, 2010 | 11:10 pm
’How long are these turban jokes on Faceboook gonna curry on for?’ is an example of a hate-mongering Facebook ‘page’ that has been taken off the most popular social networking Web site in the world.
Also deleted: ‘My turban brings the Taliban to the yard and they’re like we wanna bomb cars.’
Also deleted: ‘My Turban Only Comes Off During Sex ;)’
The most egregious ones are offline but many more remain.
Unlike the familiar Facebook personal profiles, where individuals input their personal information and communicate with friends by posting messages, public figures and organizations can create public profiles, called ‘pages,’ to attract Facebook users for commercial purposes. But some people create pages using fake profiles, and it is from these “trolls” that most of the hateful content originates, Facebook told the New York Times.
“first successful group! never gave up and now look at me! -im baaaaaaaaallin!!,” says the owner of the page, ‘Lsmmtuafimc = Laughing so much my turban unravels and falls in my curry.’ “I (explicative) love my fans - you've made me so much more popular at school 8-)… anyone got some funny jokes?!”
The page owner’s ‘info’ originally showed that he was a white male from the United Kingdom, but his info disappeared Tuesday afternoon, Dec. 21. The rest of his page is still available and still shows a nihang with an enormous pugree as his profile image. It also showed the identities of 679,097 users that have posted that they “like” his page. But that number went down to 679,012 by Wednesday evening, Dec. 22.
“There were a few people in the community who brought this to our attention,” said Jasjit Singh, associate executive director of the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund in Washington. “We did some research and found more (pages)… It was a very significant problem.”
Tabulating the number of fans on 45 offensive pages that SALDEF found this summer, the number of people viewing these pages added up to three million, Jasjit Singh said. Some pages, like Lsmmtuafimc, had hundreds of thousands of members.
Facebook may seem like a harmless forum for teens and young adults to fraternize online, but with 500 million users worldwide, it has become a powerful force of social influence. Through ‘friends’ networks, pages set up as innocuous jokes about turbans can direct the attitudes of millions of people, instantly. Every time Lsmmtuafimc, or any of his 679,012 friends, posts a comment, the rest of the group immediately sees that message on their personal pages.
SALDEF, which began as a media watchdog group in 1997, is now monitoring this and other social media Web sites, identifying harmful pages and tracking how many users are receiving these messages.
Lsmmtuafimc: “RIGHT so ive got some haters....its expected. evryone? its a joke okay? sorry to offend but you dont have to join...8-).”
Some of the pages were just meant to be jokes with the intention to get as many people to join by spam, Jasjit Singh said. It is supposed to be a forum for people to exchange views, “that too under very unfortunate circumstances.”
Among the 123 images that users have posted in Lsmmtuafimc’s photos collection are photos of Sikhs with unusual turbans, unrelated pictures and cartoons, Sikhs at Darbar Sahib, a turbaned character from the Harry Potter film named Professor Quirinus Quirrel, Sikhs in the World Wars, white Sikhs, Sikh models and Osama bin Laden.
The photos with the most reactions were the ones with white men wearing a turban and beard costume, as a joke. Most of the comments were about how funny he looked.
But Sikhs are not laughing.
In fact, many Singhs and Kaurs posted reverse-racist and hateful comments on the photos, although most of them did not wear turbans. But by Wednesday morning, Dec. 22, many of those comments also were removed. A few were left.