Wednesday, 28 January 2009

There Are Still Good People and Responsible Journalists Around the World

IncaKolaNews´s Otto Rock (photo, nice photo, isn't it?) is the one who spotted that outrageous thing in Facebook about Bolivian President Evo Morales. And a few reporters at the Associated Press went out looking for the story. Here is the result. There is still good people in this world of greed and indifference. Thanks to them ...

Facebook nixes group seeking Morales 'liquidation'
By FRANK BAJAK, The Associated Press

6:04 p.m. January 27, 2009

BOGOTA, Colombia — The social-networking site Facebook removed a group on Tuesday whose title advocated raising money so a gunman could be hired to "liquidate" Bolivia's leftist president, Evo Morales.

The Spanish-language group, created in August, had 8,069 members and had drawn the attention of at least one outraged blogger as of Tuesday, when The Associated Press alerted Facebook about it.

Called "Global collection to hire a sharpshooter to liquidate Evo Morales," the group's first description line stated, "We need to get the money to inspire someone to do it."

Its 20-year-old Bolivian creator, Hony Pierola, denied any malice. He told the AP he started the group "to laugh a little and wouldn't be so stupid as to do it with serious intentions."

However, many of the group's 497 postings were hateful, violating Facebook's terms of use, which ban threatening violence or expressing hatred.

One posting, dated Aug. 10, suggested Morales be "tortured and made to suffer, like he's doing indirectly to many Bolivian people." The vast majority of group members were well under 30, based on the birthdates and photos they posted.

The first Indian president of South America's poorest country, Morales has been a divisive figure as he drives a socialist agenda. On Sunday, Bolivia's voters approved a new constitution that seeks to empower the country's long-suppressed Indian majority.

Bolivian presidential spokesman Ivan Canelas said the government wasn't aware of the removed Facebook group but said officials would look into it.

A Facebook spokeswoman, Jaime Schopflin, said Pierola's group clearly violated the company's terms of use, and that the site was removed within 90 minutes of AP's call. She said she did not know whether anyone had previously alerted the 700-employee company to its existence.

Schopflin acknowledged the challenge of enforcing user terms amid skyrocketing growth; Facebook's users have more than doubled over the past year to 150 million, most outside the United States.

"We do have a multilingual staff. We are trying to scale right now," she said by telephone from the 5-year-old company's headquarters in Palo Alto, California. "These things, once they are reported, we remove them immediately."

The accounts of repeat violators are disabled, Schopflin added. Pierola's account remained active Tuesday.

In an e-mail exchange, Pierola was unapologetic and made clear his deep distaste for Morales, telling the AP that "in my honest opinion as a human I think it's not his fault he's such an imbecile."

"I hope he doesn't do stupid things and that Bolivia doesn't turn into a communist state," he said.

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