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Editorial: Anti-bike group on Facebook needs to go

Posted by on January 8th, 2010 at 9:53 am

Screenshot from Facebook group that has
posted this horrific photo and added:
My Way, Get the F%&* Out of It.

A group on Facebook with 32,000 members that is encouraging dangerous behavior and fomenting hate toward people on bicycles violates Facebook’s terms of use and should be shut down.

Among other things, the group named There’s a perfectly good path right next to the road you stupid cyclist!, has posted photos of cars plowing into a group of people racing bikes with words, My Way, Get the F%&* Out of It. Here’s a snip from their group description: “My car is hard, and i am not slowing down!”

We have received a lot of emails about this from concerned people in the last few days. Some people have decided to join the group just to post pro-bike photos and messages. Others have started a new Facebook group called, HELP REMOVE this HATE GROUP against cyclists!. It currently has over 9,400 members.

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Portlander Dan Powell, co-found and owner of Portland Design Works, tells us that the response group added over 9,000 members in under 24 hours. Powell also thinks the offensive group should go. “I think Facebook has been slow to react. This is the age of the internet, that page should have come down in an afternoon.”

After reading about the “stupid cyclist!” group in the popular RoadBikeRider newsletter, Vancouver Bicycle Club member Bill Byer wrote to Facebook to point out that he feels the group violates their Terms of Use.

In the “Safety” section, the Facebook Terms of Use state:

6. You will not bully, intimidate, or harass any user.
7. You will not post content that is hateful, threatening, pornographic, or that contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence.

I agree with Mr. Byer. This group is in clear violation of those terms and should be removed by Facebook immediately. As I have made clear on several past occasions, encouraging violence on other road users is no joke. Given the already divisive bike/car culture clash in America and the relative vulnerability of people using our roads without the protection of 3,000 lbs of steel to protect them from harm, this type of thing should not be tolerated.

Free speech is one thing, but making it seem like a joke to run people over is not O.K. I hope that Facebook takes these concerns seriously (hopefully there’s a regular bike rider among their staff) and decides to take action immediately.


UPDATE:
1/8, 2:28pm: Streetsblog SF picked up on this story and has published a response from Facebook. The company says “We’ve reviewed this group and determined that it doesn’t violate our policies.” I disagree, but am not surprised by their initial review. Hopefully they take a second look.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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dp
Guest

I think the original group is a perfect example of the chasm that bicycle advocacy has to cross…for as much work as has been done, for as much money that is earmarked for infrastructure, bicycles are seen still as kind of a joke by main stream America.

Nick
Guest
Nick

Hear hear. These people need to be sent back to kindergarten and re-socialized properly.

beelnite
Guest
beelnite

This is absolutely horrifying. Like many things in this world it seems as if there are a whole bunch of folks walking (driving? riding?) around with some very skewed and sick perspectives about our purpose on this earth.

Michael42
Guest

Duly reported, but we’ll see if it does any good.

domes
Guest
domes

Uhhh, aren’t hate groups on Facebook the least of our worries? Also, don’t you think this article is likely to increase rather than decrease their membership?

Jonathan Maus (Editor-in-Chief)
Guest

domes,

i understand that, but the group needs to go and we need to raise the attention of Facebook (and others) to make that happen.

when the account is deleted, it won’t matter how many members they have.

and, just FYI, this is not the #1 thing we’re worried about. The story took about half-hour to write and now I’m working on other things!

thanks for the comment.

Jackattak
Guest
Jackattak

Domes –

Facebook has millions of users, so no, this is not “the least of our worries”. They’re spreading hate through this group which violates the ToS of Facebook. Secondly, it’s not like it’s that hard to click “Report this Group” on their Facebook page, so I don’t think we’re going to spend hours fighting this cause.

This article is well written and not hateful in any way, so I don’t know where you’re coming from regarding the possibility of the article only increasing the group’s members.

I have done my part and reported the group through my Facebook account.

bahueh
Guest
bahueh

its some stupid 16 year old kid and many of the subscribers are of similar ages…why are you giving him the time of day when he probably can’t even drive?

Maus, seems like you giving him attention is exactly what he wants…

Thanks bahueh, I expected someone to say this. I don’t care if the person is happy for the attention if that same attention also leads to the group being removed. — Jonathan

Jackattak
Guest
Jackattak

Jonathan – perfectly put!

Ed
Guest

I joined the facebook petition to get them to stop that hate group. I’ll do my best to spread the word.
thanks.

Larey
Guest

Note to personal injury lawyers. If your client was injured in a bike wreck, check to see if the driver was a memeber of this Facebook group. If so, quadruple whatever settlement you were thinking of.

Stripes
Guest
Stripes

I checked out the group, and i see some PRO BIKEY people from Pdx have joined it, in order to put up positive photographs and messages to the page in the meantime. I think that’s a good way to go, until the site is shut down.

I will be reporting both the offensive photos, and the site as a whole, to Facebook, this morning.

I think it’s sad that many American motorists don’t know the law about bicycles having full road access. I wish the DMV could be a greater part of the conversation at the table here.

They have the potential to play SUCH A HUGE role in changing people’s awareness as bicycles as a legitimate mode of transportation, rather than merely a toy that should “stay on the sidewalk:.

K'Tesh
Guest
K'Tesh

I’m going to send in my complaint as soon as I can

Nick V
Guest
Nick V

Honestly I wish we could just get rid of Facebook.
Also Twitter and My Space while we’re at it.

Donna
Guest
Donna

Nick – the beauty of the internet is that you don’t have to participate if you don’t want to. It’s awesome that way!

Vance Longwell
Guest

Agreed. Why bother attempting to convince an opposed position through argument, when you can just as easily censor them outright; and be done with it?

That’s efficient at least.

If the idea this group is putting forward is so bad, then it should be a simple matter to convince those whom hold this position that they are wrong, yes? The process of which was started the instant an opposing position congealed into the formation of another group, right? Censorship implies that I’m to be protected from something. That something, presumably, is the harm which may occur from being exposed to certain ideas. Yet, if those ideas are defeated in argument, or are simply a case where I’m never exposed to the idea in the first place, either way, it shouldn’t matter the means because the outcome is the same.

If the plan is to slow the spread of flawed logic, incendiary ideas, and provocation, then the means to that end are varied; arguably infinite. Good options besides censorship exist, that will serve the same purpose, and bring about the same ends. On the other hand, censorship gives rise to corollary-arguments about what is appropriate speech, and not; and that only serves to mire-down dialogue on all levels. And also censorship isn’t even 100% effective, a trait held in common with many of the alternative options I’ve mentioned.

Look, this fB group makes me angry. It’s childish, it’s emotional, and it could be argued it also impacts my personal safety. My own anger at this makes me suspicious that those whom support censorship are reacting to that same anger. But it’s much better to declare this, right, and hope that this declaration is supported by logic, and right-thinking than it is to just wipe-away what are, regardless of your personal judgment of them, the thoughts and feelings of your fellow man? Isn’t the idea to keep the notion that it’s okay to kill bicycle-riders, out of anger, from spreading? If so, isn’t that accomplished by convincing those exposed to this dreadful idea that it’s dumb, and irrational? Isn’t the success rate there gonna be similar to the success rate of simply imposing censorship?

Then why censor?

I join you, wholeheartedly, in your disdain, and anger, I really do. But I implore you to always consider other options than censorship. It’s just gross, man.

twilliam
Guest
twilliam

While the FB account is gross, after reading the comments over there (and how illiterate they are), I’ve got to think “Don’t Feed the Trolls” is an option.

Some propeller head is just reeling in the lulz over all this, and if we manifest some sort of retort, it just eggs them on.

$.02

mcas
Guest
mcas

Beyond the reporting the group, image guidelines are more strict, and reporting images can work. The FB guidelines are:

Facebook removes photos for attacking an individual or group if:

* the photo has been edited to attack an individual or group
* the caption or tags attack an individual or group
* the image is hateful, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable

BicycleDave
Guest
BicycleDave

The right of free speech does not protect the right to yell “fire” in a crowded movie house.

Peter Korchnak
Guest

I agree, the FB group is in poor taste. But that’s what freedom of speech entails. So I second Vance. Censorship never solved anything, it just reinforces the opinion of the censored. Everybody calm down.

Jackattak
Guest
Jackattak

Hate speech is unprotected by the 1st Amendment.

Elly Blue (Columnist)
Member

I’m curious what alternate measures you folks who are against censorship would recommend.

John C
Guest

On a different note, While on a ride I stopped by my local bank and the teller asked me point blank, before any business, “why do you guys always ride the white line when you have the whole bike lane to ride in”. I mentioned how some feel it’s safer as it slows the cars down, but the point is she has a bad image of all of us based on actions of a few. Riders running red lights was also mentioned. There is a lot of work to be done on both sides, and I agree with DP as how most people see cyclist, and I would like to concentrate on good viable solutions how we all can get along instead of it always being us vs them. That starts with emails to facebook as the Jonathan has mentioned, to try to get the crazy and negative us vs them off the radar, and promoting safe and courteous cycling in you neighborhood/ town. Just my $.02.

JE
Guest
JE

FYI—here’s the story that goes with the picture

http://www.brownsvilleherald.com/news/car-87345-dead-four.htmlre.

The Facebook gang neglected to mention that the driver was stoned, drunk and arrested.

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[…] a local blog dedicated to issues related to bikes in Portland, is expressing concern about an Australian Facebook group named, “There’s a perfectly good path right next to […]

dan
Guest
dan

I’m with Larey #11. Maybe some crafty person could collect the names of group members in case they are someday involved in an accident with a cyclist. Noting one’s membership in this group would go a long way towards proving willful intent and denying a simple accident claim in case of an “accident” and subsequent criminal charge or civil claim.
Anyone with the know how want to take this on? Maybe Keep the list of member available in an online searchable database?

Justin C, Houk
Guest

Sorry,

I’m usually with you on this stuff but your making mountains out of mole hills here. Posting a pic that’s probably all over the internet to express someones sentiment isn’t hate speech. I bet you can find that pic on many facebook pages. Should they all be banned?

You use social media to great effect in expressing yourself. I’m a bit taken back that you would attack the page by trying to get it taken down with a weak assertion like this one.

Sure, express yourself on the page and disagree with it. Post pics of obese people in cars if you think that does the trick. It’s over the top to ask for it to be banned.

gabriel amadeus
Guest

How is all this Anti-Bike Facebook Group drama any different than our stickers of “Fuck Cars” & burning hummers? It’s not. This type of response is just widening the rift between “car people” and “bike people” in my opinion.

gabriel amadeus
Guest

(oops, sorry for the explicative y’alls)

Jonathan Maus (Editor-in-Chief)
Guest

thanks for all the feedback.

gabriel,

I feel that random stickers are much different than a large corporate entity allowing a group to encourage dangerous behavior that threatens the safety of others.

and I disagree that calling attention to this group “widens the rift.” I think the rift is there to begin with because our culture does not take this sort of thing seriously enough in the first place.

Alan Cordle
Guest

“# Elly Blue (Editor)
January 8th, 2010 11:08
22

I’m curious what alternate measures you folks who are against censorship would recommend.”

Ignoring the group.

Jackattak
Guest
Jackattak

Justin # 27 –

As has been posted previously, hate speech and hateful imagery is against Facebook’s ToS (that’s Terms of Service).

It is completely within anyone’s range to ask it to be removed.

Call it a “ban” or “censorship” but it clearly is hate speech and hateful imagery, therefore it should be removed based on the Terms of Service that all Facebook users must comply with in order to be a Facebook user.

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[…] H/T Bike Portland. […]

Ivana Tinkle
Guest
Ivana Tinkle

This is sad. Even sadder is that they have that many ignorant people on their FB site, we need to lean on FB to get this hate group kicked out. Ignorant people are bad enough, but when they have the power of unity it’s scary.

Ivana Tinkle
Guest
Ivana Tinkle

PLEASE…….GO TO THEIR FACEBOOK SITE FIND THEIR PROFILE PIC, STAY ON THE LEFT SIDE OF THE PAGE, SCROLL DOWN TO THE BOTTOM AND FIND “REPORT SITE”
LET THE ADMINISTRATORS KNOW THIS IS A HATE GROUP!!!!

PastoralVelo
Guest
PastoralVelo

IDK… I like my bike activism fierce but at some point you have to pick your battles.
Campaigning against a FB page seems lame and petty. Really not going to convince anyone through this action. Focus your efforts on platforms that matter.

Bob Paxton
Guest

John C. #23 tells an all too common tale these days. Someone yelled at me this morning to “Use the @*#&(*@# bike lane!”, which was comical because I was the only vehicle going in my direction for at least several lights (I was in the left lane in order to take the left traffic light ahead). Someone yelled a similar “use the bike lane” request at me not even a month ago, so now I wonder if online campaigns like this are spreading that as some kind of mantra.
To be honest, I kind of liked things better before all these bike lanes….

Justin C, Houk
Guest

Elly Blue #31

There are facebook pages for Nazi youth and the KKK. If you go look at them you find out that people regularly post opposing views and a few even try to advocate for changing minds. I’m not saying they change minds but who knows.

This group has 32k fans! I bet that most people became fans because they just liked the name. Activists posting bike friendly materials could win some people over out of that 32k. Well, they might have before the campaign to get the site banned from facebook and the posts of many insulting pics and comments.

You could contact the owner of the page and find out what they think about working together. Again 32k fans offer some interesting options if you treat this like an opportunity vs a rally for censoring the site. Fat Chance now I guess.

Sorry, I love what you guys do on this site. I just disagree with your stance on this.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

I’ve visited Facebook…maybe 2-3 times. Didn’t see it having anything of interest to me.

Somewhere, there always seems to be people thinking that violence and mayhem is hysterically funny, at least when directed against at anyone but themselves. Being able to eliminate that probably isn’t a realistic possibility, but I’m glad to hear people are willing to converge on the ‘hip’ confines of FB and give some of the idiots there a wake-up.

John C #23…did you invite the bank teller to come ride with you on ‘the whole bike lane’? No better way to show them why riding the white line or the main lane is often preferable.

Jackattak
Guest
Jackattak

Well Justin looks as though you’re going to have it your way.

Facebook has announced they are not going to remove the group due to the group’s non-use of “actionable violence” (whatever that means).

So, I suppose it will be all of our collective jobs to go to the group, become members, and post our dreams filled with flowers and rainbows with cars all over the road and cyclists riding happily on sidewalks.

Oh Word?
Guest
Oh Word?

Maybe I’ll start a group called “The easiest way to break off a sideview mirror on a car”!

Michael M.
Guest

Happily, I don’t do Facebook, so it probably goes without saying that I tend to think ignoring it is the best policy.

I used to get all worked up about racist or homophobic or sexist or anti-this, anti-that speech, and it still irritates me. At the same time, I long ago realized what people do is much more important than what people say, especially in the age of the Internet, where it is so much easier to be “virtually obnoxious” than it is AFK. If this group was making serious arguments about changing rules governing bike / car interaction or enforcement priorities or similar, then those arguments could be addressed constructively and productively. As it is, they are trying to provoke — and apparently, they are succeeding. I have my doubts as to whether anyone’s safety is really jeopardized by this kind of juvenile activity.

But, to each his or her own. Enjoy your Facebooking!

q`Ztal
Guest
q`Ztal

Certainly the least that should be done is to not allow these toxic personalities to breed in a social setting where they think their behavior is acceptable.

The only thing that stops the closet sociopath from acting out against others is fear of reprisals, fear of punishment and fear of financial hardship. Take these social inhibitors away and they will lash out at anything for no reason with no concern for the life and well being of any life, animal or human.
There are a lot of these people hiding in our society. Certainly we expect that a convicted criminal is the sort of person who would shoot someone in the face to see what they bleed like. How many people do you know that are so selfish that they have to be pressured in to sharing when everyone else is and they are so willing to take and not give? How many people do you know that made their money, millions even, by what is considered by common knowledge, if not law, as theft and laugh in your face as if it was your fault you where swindled? How many people do you know that would steal a winning lottery ticket from a homeless person, beating then senseless or dead in the process? There are more of these people out of jail/prison system than are in it?
What can we legally do?
What can we ethically do?

Can you un-teach a sociopath? Is it something that is taught or is it genetic? If these people are born this way, you know puppy kickers, is there any hope to change their ways?

Vance Longwell
Guest

How ’bout this E #22? An analogy. Let’s say instead of fB pages, it’s leaflets pasted to a community wall. I assert that you are advocating removing an offending leaflet from the community wall, whilst it is my position that pasting a leaflet next to it, containing an opposing position, will suffice. The real difference is that both parties are afforded their respective freedoms, my way, with arguably the same outcome either way.

In my analogy, we agree upon what offends us, but we disagree with how best to handle it. Rather than simply tearing down the speech of others, I recommend kicking the poo out of it with wisdom, talent, and aplomb, for all to see. Then let the whole s**t-er-ee sit there, indelible, forever as a record of, if nothing else, the stupid s**t people think up.

Maybe history wouldn’t be so goddamned prone to repeating itself if we weren’t changing it all the time.

Elly Blue (Columnist)
Member

Vance, I agree with you — wasn’t actually stating my opinion, just hoping to find out what folks would actually do.

Disheartening to hear people advocate to ignore it though. Turning a blind eye to something like this and hoping it goes away feels like tacit approval to me. It’s definitely the higher road to address this stuff one way or another rather than simply letting it be.

PastoralVelo
Guest
PastoralVelo

Elly
I think you are misreading most of the anti-comments. I don’t think you should ignore it but trying to control another persons or groups speech, however offensive it may be, is a BAD way to advocate your point.
As a long time organizer – all you are doing is drawing attention to the group instead of advocating your own positive message. You are wasting resources on something you may or may not win versus using those resources to advance your message.
Drivers who are frustrated at cyclists have every right to vent through bad humor… activism without the ability to laugh at the other sides bad taste is boring, pretentious, and unlikely to win new converts.

Undercover cyclist cops
Guest
Undercover cyclist cops

Put plain clothes cops out on the bike lane as commuter decoys, let the media know, and see how funny motorists think it is to harass cyclists.

Elly Blue (Columnist)
Member

PastoralVelo, my comments are in response to a couple people who said they’d rather everyone just ignored this group. I don’t think that’s the way to go.

This editorial was written by Jonathan. I didn’t know about it until he posted it. Personally, I don’t think simply deleting the group is the best way to go, though I do agree that it violates FB’s terms of service in terms of the violence being “actionable” (FB disagrees, probably because there isn’t a hell of a lot of popular credence for thinking of cars as deadly weapons).

As in all things, however, I would rather keep the authorities out of it. Kudos to those who are wading in to reframe the conversation around respect and reason.

Vance Longwell
Guest

E #45- Agreed. Don’t you find your own compulsion to rise to the stated perceived challenge quite gallant then, noble even? See, if you’d protect a stranger from a harmful idea, man, that’s some serious high-road, righteous, kind of stuffs. Which is implicit in your clear outrage.

I find it difficult to present a sufficiently persuasive argument opposing this fB group’s position, myself. This frustrates me. That frustration exacerbates the aforementioned anger this all causes me to feel. At some point, I experience an impulse to simply censor the expression of this idea, my own self. This feeling in me, makes me suspicious of others, and their motives. Shouldn’t we be suspicious of emotionally driven behavior? I mean, isn’t that what the dang principle gripe here is?

However, the underlying logic of my real-position in this applies and is sound. It is my emotions, and impetuousness, that are maybe interfering with constructing the thus elusive all-persuasive argument in support of my position. So, just ’cause my alternative to censorship aint working-so-good in this particular context; that’s not my idea’s fault, so much as my own.

Hehe. You said, “alternative”, not, “great alternative”. Again, I’d argue that censorship won’t get you much either. Other than the knowledge you let a bad idea cajole you into being uncivil.

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