Facebook Refuses to Remove Group Promoting Anti-Cyclist Violence

bike_hate_1.gifScreenshot from the Facebook group promoting dooring, among other acts that injure cyclists.

A
number of Streetsblog readers have noticed a particularly loathsome
group that has sprouted up on Facebook and has a legion of fans. As of
this writing, more than 32,000 people are fans of "There’s a perfectly good bike path right next to the road you stupid cyclist,"
a group page with a bunch of anti-cyclist screeds and some pretty nasty
photos of bicycle crashes and car-on-bike violence. Facebook has
concluded that the group does not violate the site’s terms of use and
will not shut it down.

"It’s a stupid and offensive joke and unfortunately there are still
people who don’t see that bicyclists have the same rights as
everyone else," said Marc Caswell, Program Manager at the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. "It’s a cruel example of the
ignorance of cyclists’ rights. We would encourage people to report it
as offensive."

The
site is full of the vitriol one has come to expect online and in
anonymous comment sections, but unlike blogs or online forums, all the
fuming leaves a clear path to the users who posted it.

The first user to link the group was from Australia, and several of the references to road rules
are of British provenance or from former British colonies. In the
"About Me" section, it reads: "No matter how far to the left you are,
you’re taking up my road. My car is hard, and i am not slowing down!"

bike_hate_2A photo from a road race on June 3, 2008 in Mexico, when a drunk driver killed one cyclist and injured more than ten others. Posted to the group by Sean Tysoe

In addition to creating a counter group called "HELP REMOVE this HATE GROUP against cyclists!",
a number of cyclists have become fans of the original group and have
posted agitprop in the form of bicycle photos. While there are
disturbing photos of cars creaming cyclists and road signs promoting
violence against cyclists, the photo album is full of pictures of the
kind of bike porn you might expect on Bike Blog or Fixed Gear Gallery. And there are easily as many photos of "Share the Road" signs as the opposite.

Streetsblog asked Facebook whether this group violates their Terms of Use, particularly sections 6 and 7, under
"Safety":

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.

Facebook’s
Simon Axten told us the group has been reviewed and deemed kosher by
the company’s staff. Presumably the reason they are not removing this
group boils down to how one interprets the phrase "actionable threats
of violence." Here’s Axten’s explanation:

We
take our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities very seriously and
react quickly to remove reported content that violates our policies.
Specifically, we’re sensitive to content that includes hate speech
and/or actionable threats of violence. The goal of these policies is to
strike a very delicate balance between giving Facebook users the
freedom to express their opinions and beliefs, even controversial ones,
and maintaining a safe and trusted environment.

We’ve reviewed
this group and determined that it doesn’t violate our policies.  We
encourage users to report anything they feel does violate these
policies using the report links located throughout the site. Thanks.

law_of_physics.jpgPosted to the group by Chelsea Kerr

Any legal minds care to comment?

H/T Bike Portland.

  • =v= I’m getting hate mail with misspelled profanity over this matter. The price of not being an anonymous SFGate/Fark keyboard coward.

    I would like to clear one thing up for those of you blaming San Francisco for this hubbub: Streetsblog S.F. did NOT originate the opposition to the hate group, it is simply reporting on it.

  • budfrogs

    For every poster that will say bicyclist run red lights are rude blah blah blah. Remember most cyclist also drive cars. Also you say they are rude and break the laws. Yet I bet you as driver you break at least one law when driving every day. Either speeding, pushing yellow lights, not using turn signals, turn right on no turn on red lights, turning into the wrong lanes, passing on the right and most of not treating a cyclist like another vehicle. For every cyclist that does something wrong there are 100 drivers driving wrong every day. Lets not be a hypocrite here.

  • Enger

    Maybe we need to start a Facebook page with a photo of a car passing a bicyclist closer than 3′ and said bicyclist firing a gun through the window at his head. I mean, if we’re going to protect speech that commits inducement to violence under an ignorant misinterpretation of the first amendment, turn about is fair play.

  • JP

    “Us and Them” scenarios almost always lend themselves to negative and hateful attitudes and behavior. WW2 was a prime example (ethnic cleansing). We ALL share the road (legally and in practice) so there should not, under the law, be any “us and them” scenario. We are all just road-users. Some are faster, slower, bigger, wider, powered and unpowered. We live together in a geographic location. We all have to compromise a bit.

    People use sites such as this to service their perverse desires to breed hate. They will do this regardless of whether it is in the name of “anti-terror” (look up some of the nut cases on youtube who are starting their own little anti-terrorist camps) or “anti-immigration” or “anti-cyclist” or whatever.

  • George Spiggot

    There’s this joke from one of the Austin Powers movies where the guy says something like, “Racism is one of two things I really hate.”

    “What’s the other?”

    “The Dutch.”

    I’d be really surprised if the people on the Hate Cyclists website limited their hatred to cyclists. From some of the comments I’ve read there, the only thing worse in their mind than a cyclist is a Jewish cyclist…

    Car drivers will creep over a speed bump at two-miles an hour without complaint… they will give a well-marked pothole or other obstruction a wide berth without a uttering a curse.

    Is it really too much to ask that car drivers should give cyclists the same respect and consideration they routinely give to a pothole or speed bump?

    Think about it…

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