Jan 28, 2011 Ned Campbell Uncategorized
Free speech is one thing, but the Facebook profile page penned “Listof West Genesee Fagz (Andsome Hoezz)” is another, says West Genesee Superintendent Chris Brown.
Brown began efforts to have the page taken down when students notified him of the page about three weeks ago. The District Attorney issued a subpoena to Facebook and Camillus Police have contacted Facebook representatives demanding the page be shut down.
The appeared to be down, but was up again as of this morning. The Camillus Police Department is asking the community to help shut down the page by finding it and clicking “report/block this person.”
Currently, it’s hard to tell the status of the profile page.
“It’s like a light switch right now,” Brown said. “It’s up and then it’s down.”
Brown was shown screen shots and print-ups from the profile page, which can only be accessed after being accepted as a “friend.” Brown said the page contains derogatory comments about both female and male students.
“It contains pictures and comments from people not only from West Genesee, but other schools as well,” he said.
As a superintendent, Brown’s only means of contacting Facebook involves listening to an automated message and leaving a voicemail, though law enforcement officers are given more clearance to talk direct to Facebook representatives.
“I understand we’re a very small player in this,” Brown said, “but this is happening all over the world.”
He said Facebook needs to have a faster mechanism for taking pages down when they contain “very harassing comments” that go beyond the protections of free speech.
“They have to because they’re messing with people’s lives here,” he said.
One of the superintendent’s big concerns is that students posting on the public site could have their names broadcasted in the news.
“I think parents need to recognize what their children are saying on Facebook, because if some parents saw their posts on the news they’d be horrified by what their kids are writing,” Brown said. “And as these pages get more media attention, people are going to get on those pages.”
The district faced a similar issue about four months ago when students brought to Brown’s attention a Facebook page called “WG Hoes,” also containing pictures of students and derogatory comments. The district’s school resource officer found the creator of that page within eight hours and arrested him on eight charges of aggravated harassment. Brown addressed the issue in a Jan. 10 post to his blog, “Notes from the Superintendent”:
“I am hoping for the same outcome in this case as well,” he wrote, “but I keep having to remind people to watch who they ‘friend,’ what they say and who they say it to.”