What Should Facebook Do About All Of These James Holmes Pages?

    July 27, 2012
    Josh Wolford
    Comments are off for this post.

I’m not really sure of my purpose behind reporting this. And I’m not really sure what this says about the internet, Facebook, people in general – if anything. Maybe it says something about our culture, and how criminals are made into celebrities by the 24-hour news cycle. Maybe it’s merely a commentary on just how large of a tragedy the Aurora theater shooting really was – that so many people would feel compelled to do this on a public forum like Facebook.

Maybe it’s because it can compel a vigorous debate on free speech and distasteful speech, and what Facebook should do in situations like this.

What should Facebook do about the multitude of pro-James Holmes pages on the site? Should Facebook be in the business of censoring impertinent speech? Let us know in the comments.

Truly, I’m not sure I can flesh out a deeper meaning to this. All I can say is whoa – there are already an epic amount of James Holmes-related Facebook pages.

(James Holmes, as you’re probably well-aware, is the alleged perpetrator of last weekend’s brutal theater massacre at a screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado. His actions left 12 dead and 58 injured.)

A large majority of the pages that have popped up are simply “public figure” pages. They typically have anywhere between a few dozen and a few hundred “likes.”

Of course, there are also plenty of “James Holmes must rot in hell” and “James Holmes needs to be decapitated” pages.

But some James Holmes-related pages are insensitive in a typical internet-troll fashion. You’ve got your “Holmes, James Holmes” page, your “James Holmes fan club,” your “Jame’s Holmes didn’t really do anything” page. Ultimate troll award goes to the person who created the “James Holmes – Probably not such a bad guy” page.

Their only post goes like this:

James Holmes- Probably not such a bad guy

Learn before you judge; This guy is probably a brilliant young man who had motives for his actions beyond the conventional sense of right and wrong. Just my opinion, but what if, as a discouraged genius who couldn’t find work decided to kill a bunch of stupid people watching a new Batman movie? I truly hope he gets the chance to speak his mind, lest someone else need to acquire their own 15 minutes

Then, you have the newly formed page “James Holmes is a true hero” where they say they are “here to praise our dark knight.” Here’s the photo that stands as that page’s profile pic:

+50 for humanity that it only has 1 “like” so far.

I counted over 150 James Holmes-related pages that have already popped up since Friday.

Facebook has responded to these pages.

“While incredibly distasteful, [it] doesn’t violate our terms,” they said.

Indeed, Facebook’s Statement on Rights and Responsibilities clearly states that Facebook users will not “bully, intimidate, or harass” any other user. It also forbids content that is “hate speech, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence.” So, unless the James Holmes Facebook pages begin posting content that falls into any of those categories, Facebook will keep out of it.

“We are heartened that the vast majority of activity on Facebook surrounding this tragedy has been focused on helping the community cope and beginning the healing process in the wake of these events,” said Facebook.

Of course, this isn’t the first time that Facebook has felt the heat over controversial content on the site. Back in March of 2011, Facebook removed a page called “Third Palestinian Intifada” after a load of pressure from outside groups. In that case, Facebook took a while in removing the page, even though ti clearly called for a violent uprising against a specific ethnic group.

In August, a post on the Fox News Facebook page concerning an appearance by Blair Scott of American Atheists on the station was inundated with hateful and often violent comments against atheists. The comments included death threats, for instance “Shoot them, shoot to kill” and “Nail them to that cross then display it.” We asked whether or not these kinds of comments were free speech or if Facebook had an obligation to pull them as they incited violence. Fox News ended up deleting the comments before Facebook had to make a decision either way.

And there continues to be an ongoing battle with breastfeeding activists over Facebook’s removal of many images of mothers feeding their babies.

So, one could argue that Facebook will remove a post show a natural act because of a hint of a nipple is showing, but will allow other users to upload photoshopped images of President Obama pinning the medal of honor on James Holmes to their pages.

Then again, the pages that have popped up in praise and support of James Holmes and his actions in Aurora last Friday aren’t really violating any of Facebook’s terms. And it is people’s right to be impertinent, as long as it doesn’t translate into illegal. Is it really Facebook’s job to police disrespectful, distasteful, and otherwise unpopular content? Or does Facebook make the right decision when they allow all kinds of speech to exist on the site? Let us know what you think in the comments.

  • Martha

    And this is why his name and picture should never have been released! Why do we insist on feeding the fantasies of the next insane person who wants to be more (in)famous. Let them fade away into obscurity and concentrate on healing the victims and their families. Or better yet, perhaps we could concentrate on trying to be sure that another nightmare like this doesn’t happen again by limiting access to guns, artillary and other weapons of mass terror!

    • Susan

      Execute him and never speak his name again – just like we did with Timothy McVeigh.

      • http://www.vimeo.com/8336589 Brian

        oopsie, you spake the TV name!

  • http://liveguitartutor.com Bob Sutherby

    Wow, just wow. At this point I don’t think there’s any way his image could have been kept off the Internet.

  • am

    like I’ve said all my long life, people aren’t that bright. never underestimate their stupidity.

  • Bane – the breaker of the bat

    Sadly, this is what people like doing; praising a sick murderer for his actions, purely because they weren’t amongst the dead or wounded.

    If any of these sickos were there on the night of the murders, they’d be making ‘kill James now!’ pages, or photoshop pictures of James Holmes’ face over that of someone strangling at the end of a rope, or being fried on the electric chair.

    These people frighten me, because, like James, they have perverse minds and enjoy increasing the pain of others.

  • Beauty

    Yeah, this is so sad. The bible says that people won’t have a natural affection in the last days. No heart, no feelings or emotion. Instead of this guy being mistreated its clearly another sign we are living in the last days. Why can’t he just be evil? Oh, I forgot…people don’t want to believe evil spirits are out there. Just like the disbelief in Christ. Years go by and what is fact/truth is going to be challenged if it was ever real. Like slavery. Today’s society doesn’t want to believe it ever existed and act like it doesn’t effect people…but it does. I hope our justice system has the heart to realize that justice needs to be served but even in the case of Cassie Anthony, the proper judgment was not used. Hope this guy gets what he deserves!

  • Russell Dee

    It’s sad. They think James Holmes stands for something that he does not stand for. They think James Holmes is a strong bad-ass but Mr. Holmes is a very very frail, very very vulnerable psychologically damaged person. He is not what these “James Holmes Fans” think he is. He isn’t the strong antihero. He’s a very ill person. He’s a tragedy that needs help and will never ever ever get to be what he really wants to be – normal.

  • http://www.jumbocdinvestments.com ChrisCD

    Facebook is under no obligation to keep any content on their servers. They could remove any content that they found distasteful. If someone wants to create their own web pages and feature whatever content they want, they are free to do so. But, I believe Facebook could and potentially should remove those pages. They are quite distasteful and insensitive. This isn’t about Free Speech. This is about the rights of a private company to host the content they want.

  • http://www.em3marketing.com Janyer Dominguez

    Delete them all!!

  • C Whitehorn

    Facebook does not want to censor free speech. But at the same time I think they are not under obligation to provide a forum for it.
    Since they choose to censor breastfeeding, why cannot they choose to censor glorifying mass murder?

  • Mick

    Why is it, in this day and age, that nearly EVERYONE has forgotten about the Constitution, which was an ingeniusly written document that made the U.S. the GREATEST force for good in the WORLD? Just because you don’t LIKE it, too bad, because we have FREEDOM OF SPEECH!!!

    • C Whitehorn

      The Constitution guarantees freedom of speech. You can say what you want. This does not mean that anyone else is under obligation to publish what you say.

  • http://Www.appdownloadoutlet.com Syd

    This is a touchy subject but a good one!
    While I personally think its awful there are actually people out there who think what Holmes did is okay, good or has any reason to be excused is crazy, it is their opinion. It also tells you something about those individuals! People photoshop all sorts of images to make a joke or point but again it’s allowed. Many people are offended by women breast feeding in public, pics of it. I once had a friend who was on a long flight and breast fed her baby. She was primarily covered up but other passengers complained. I feel this is a natural thing. If you don’t like it, don’t look!
    The other issues are freedom of speech issues. We may not like what others do or say, as awful as they may be, but it’s their right as a US citizen. (who knows where they live, it’s the Internet!).

    If Facebook is going to oversee everything and become involved in removing information THEY feel is inappropriate, they would have to do so for more then the above mentioned! Freedom of speech!

    Just my 2 cents.

  • Ross

    These people are the product of their environment. This is not real to them, but “Reality” shows are, and blur their sense of it. They really have a hard time distinguishing the difference, the difference between what is right, and what they are told is an acceptable reaction. The first step in mind control for the masses. (see MKUltra)

  • http://yahoo.com Margaret


  • Mike Whitenton

    I would argue the phrase “incite violence” means more than simply “urging violence”. By liking, agreeing with or even posting a pro mass murder pages one is in-fact encouraging others to do the same.
    Modern media’s hyper-reporting of such events is the end game of these mass murder’s. I don’t have an answer, but news reporters have to recognize the way they report stories and the amount of time covering a story impacts us all. “The pen is mightier than the sword.” carries a deeper meanings as well.
    dictionary.com defines:incite
    verb (used with object), in·cit·ed, in·cit·ing.
    to stir, encourage, or urge on; stimulate or prompt to action: to incite a crowd to riot.

  • http://ilocalteam.com Galadriel

    While there are some interesting thoughts here on James Holmes, back to the actual question as to whether Facebook should be the censor of stupidity and foolishness is really not anyone’s right to say. Facebook does not fall under free speech because they are not part of the government, they are a private company and they can and should be able to run their company and website as they want.

    On a personal note, if they get into censoring they will end up opening a plethora of problems for themselves, as noted from the breastfeeding mention, and they will have more complaints than what they’re interested in dealing with. So this is why I think they’re trying to just stick to their rules and not bother with extra unwanted harrassment from users.

    People will do what they do regardless of what rules you put into place anyway.

  • http://www.acclinet.com Mike Kalil

    It’s good to see that they’re not attracting very many fans. If I ever see in my feed, “So and So likes James Holmes,” I’d be sure to unfriend that person immediately. I think the best solution is just to ignore them altogether.

  • Tbo

    I think the gov’t should file all the looney pages, their developers and posters into a gov’t watch system and at the end of a year, pick them up and put them in a camp for subversives.

  • bill

    YES! DELETE!….Facebook needs to do the right thing! have some integrity! show some moral fortitude!…oh I forgot…..those values don’t exist anymore (especially in the corporate/political realms). Instead of dancing around the whole ‘censorship is it right, is it wrong’ argument just show some ‘common sense’ and bedone with it!!! Oh right….forgot….common sense doesn’t exist anymore either.

  • Jeff Duck

    First off – YOU take down any photo that you have presented showing his face as a recipient of the Medal of Honor. That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen an intelligent person do.

    Setting aside any debate about Facebook or what he did, don’t desecrate people who have received the highest honor in defense of the country by spreading the photo.

  • http://www.easyfundraisingcards.com Fundraising Cards

    Humans are inherently short sighted cursed with the inability to look at things objectively. With the most outspoken always in an OUTRAGE over something or other.

    Freedom applies only to their OWN opinion, speech and rights – those in contrast simply must be idiots….

  • http://therestlessmouse.com The Restless Mouse

    Don’t look at it if you don’t like it. Being outraged is playing right into the hands of the trolls who post the offending content.

    I’m just glad I am not one of the many other guys with the name James Holmes.

  • http://www.captaincyberzone.com Cap’n Cyberzone

    The problem with Liberals is their ingrained “Puritan” beliefs, it’s an emotionalism akin to “my way or the highway”.
    In a Democratic Republic you do nothing about “all those Holmes” pages and that includes NOT looking at them if they bother you.
    And you DON’T burn the Witches at the stake either … just because they’re not like you!

    • Tbo

      the problem with liberals, the problem with liberals… you sound like a fukin bird

  • http://www.write2profitonline.com/ Andy Gage

    Facebook should ADD to it’s rules to say that “any posts or related comments that attempt to glorify acts such as murder, multiple murder or deliberate acts that have proved to have caused a death, or many deaths, resulting in untold suffering to other individuals will not be published, tolerated or broadcast” Facebook DOES have a responsibility to police all its postings of this nature.

  • http://iceburner.info/blog Michael Eisbrener

    Suppressing speech has never worked. It creates future explosions. As long as the USA honors free speech, the right to be stupid, it will eventually work itself out. Hide it, ban it or suppress it and you may believe all is well but eventually the “What happened!??” happens. What you resist persists, what you let be will let you be and atrophy. Most people won’t let it go. Being ‘right’ about any position keeps the other position in play. The problem isn’t political it is a lack of freedom. What is it about the places like Colorado that create this kind of incident over and over? More restrictions, more ‘righteous’ controls beget more of the same. Glad I don’t live where people are not free.

  • Doug

    Take the pages down! Do not allow him to become celebrity!

  • CJ

    Easy enough, Facebook should add an “unlike” option.

  • http://www.sinoro.ro/ Marcel

    Y agree! Facebook should add an “dislike” button!

    • http://Www.appdownloadoutlet.com Syd

      Not a bad idea!

  • http://www.sinoro.ro/ John

    !Facebook should add an “Unlike” button but cold be bad for thei marketin strategies, especially for Rezervari Hotel

  • Larry

    My mother used to say “Fools names and fools faces are often seen in public places.” Methinks this is some of that. All we have done with facebook is created a public site where people can scrawl any stupid thing on their wall. Most of us will not bother to read it so what’s the problem. I am greatly disturbed by the number of people who can’t comment on facebook or youtube without lacing it with profanity. Just shows how stupid some people really are.

  • http://WeightCountdown.com Pete

    There should not be any article, pictures, comments, nothing!

  • http://www.snakeman.com.au Snakeman

    Facebook trolls are a problem and the stalking and harassment conduct is illegal under local laws in countries such as Australia and the USA. We have serious troll problems, but the main source in our case is a protected criminal here in Australia. The criminal openly brags on the internet that he’s protected and yes, he literally gets away with murder.
    And what’s the whole problem about?
    Well I’ve been known as Australia’s snake man for over 40 years and have owned the registered trademarks for a long time. This ratbag comes along in 2006 and decides he wants the trademark for himself and so has sought our destruction ever since.
    Now in terms of facebook, I must say that getting trolls fake ID’s removed is near impossible and facebook don’t divulge IP addresses or assist authorities in dealing with the problem and so are also culpable.

  • http://Mabuzi.com Kevin

    If FB removed every fake profile it membership would reduce by 50%. This is the dilemma with rules and laws and human nature. Personally I can’t understand why you would glorify a cold blooded murderer but then again I can’t understand why you would give a private corporation your personal data to sell to others?

  • http://www.oldantiquepottery.info Megahertz37

    It’s horrible the way some people are. To glorify & revel in such a sickening display is disdainful. However, freedom of speech is omnipotent. I may not like what you have to say but will defend your right to say it! As far as Facebooks’ stance, it is kind of all or nothing. Could they realistically monitor & censor a billion users? If users are in direct violation of the TOS, & they are made aware, sure.

    Another thing that is coming out of this issue is gun control. (Obama spoke of it today) Gun’s don’t kill people, people do. If one other person was carrying a fire arm in that theater, perhaps they could have shot him in the face (he was wearing body armor) & stopped the bloodshed early? Gun laws ONLY EFFECT LAW ABIDING CITIZENS!!! Look at Chicago. They have some of the strictest gun laws in the nation & an incredible amount of gun violence.

    [The war zone-like statistics are not new. As WBEZ reports, while some 2,000 U.S. troops have been killed in Afghanistan since 2001, more than 5,000 people have been killed by gun fire in Chicago during that time, based on Department of Defense and FBI data.

    Chicago’s murder rate is also currently quadruple that of New York and double Los Angeles’ rate.]

    Anyway, let people run off at the mouth & act a fool. The majority are just after attention anyway. When major societal changes are brought about by random acts of crazies, the vast majority really will lose.

    Just my 2 cents…

    • http://cass-hacks.com Craig

      Ironically, a guy walked into a church in Aurora not that long ago and opened fire.

      He was put down by a man legally packing.

      That one person, other than the killer himself, died was a tragedy but that more could have been killed were it not for the man legally carrying a gun is something that doesn’t get much press, for some reason.

      Sometimes being politically incorrect does save lives.

  • http://www.zazzle.com/artnip kss9

    Are there ads on those pages? If so, are the businesses aware of it? Leave it to the businesses to contact FB and demand that their ads not be displayed there. Businesses need to have more marketing control on FB.

  • L

    Facebook has turned into cyber graffitti. You can’t censor graffitti. But most of us know that what is written on the back of the cubicle door is just profanity and keep it in that context. The bigger deal you make of it the more importance it has. However, Facebook does have the right to remove it if it incites violence – have they thought of that?

  • Angela Cockburn

    The man is clearly ill,and appears to have sought help which was not forthcoming thanks to postal delays.

    He is not a hero, not did he try to be – he cast himself as the villain – the villain who is always stopped in time in the movies.

    He is not a political activist and shouldn’t be used to make political statements.

    Open discussion is fine. There’ll always be people who express opinions i disagree with, whether on Facebook or down the pub.

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  • poglad

    Okay… “James Holmes is not such a bad guy” is not hate speech. It may be the creed of sick losers, but it’s not hate speech. On the other hand, “James Holmes should be beheaded and rot in hell” sounds like hate speech to me. So when it comes to removing hate speech from Facebook, they have their work cut out if they want to be seen to reflect the public mood on this.

  • Eyeore

    I appreciate the freedom of fb, but fb tends toward bias in its enforcement of its policies. Sites calling for death and violence were allowed to remain for a long time, while the page titled “End Homophobia on Facebook” was repeatedly frozen and removed by fb. The homophobic sites violated policy. The site asking for there removal did not but it was the site fb acted against. Sometimes fb is slow, sometimes it is fast (like removing a pic of a babies head because it looked it might be a breast & nipple). They allow sites that call for the death and/or brutality to groups fb is less supportive of (like gays and lesbians) but remove content that harms no one (like mothers feeding their babies). And once your account is frozen, you are effectively silenced. There is no process of appeal or other recourse, whether fb is being unfair or not, or whether they are following their own policies or not.

  • http://www.ToBeSafeAndSound.com A. C. Reade

    His name should remain in infamy not on Facebook!

  • http://xoteria.com Louis Ferriol

    I believe in free speech and minimal censorship. My website, http://Xoteria,tv supports this in movies, music videos and anime. But every measure is to a point. Society hates child molesters and rightfully so. But anyone who uses a public arena for shooting at innocent victims, including children, cannot be sanely defended. Facebook should remove approval of mass murder. That is carrying free speech too far.

  • http://www.travelbusinessaffiliates.com Aloha Lani

    All I know fb is no different from the media news, that is what they are thriving on, as well. I think they will participate where ever the reveling of traffic coming from. Think about when Twitter gets a news slip thru and credibility is accounted for. So facebook want the same glory, but in a wrong way of advertising it, very insensitive way.

    In fact, I experienced an incident where I disciplined my son from banning him from hanging out with bad influenced friends. And a guy in this group decided to create a fanpage and ranted about on us as parents being evil and free my son. I requested to have this fanpage deleted based on harassment and till now they have not done so. Things are backwards and yet it is being accepted. I’m glad I came by.

  • http://www.allmartshopping.com Paula

    I dont know what I think about that. mmmmmmmm, wow. I’m shocked and not suprised at the same time if thats possible. Not at Facebook but at the responses of the public. Killing someone, much less 12 people should never be acceptable under any circumstance. I know there are people like that out there that would “start a fan club” of such a person but for some reason I’m always shocked when they show up again. I know we all have our right to our opinion and free speech. I guess this was me exercising mine.

  • gwenwren

    Take them all down.

  • Phil

    It is very clear that this man is not sick but a premeditated murderer because of the planning that went into the booby trapping of his apartment. There are major issues with Face Book which has developed into an ‘unsocial’ media site with bullying being rampant to the point of innocent people committing suicide to escape the torment. FB has never been that responsible when it comes to upholding their very own rules. Technology is available to police certain phrases/words and notify them of bullying or comments which clearly insight violence or racism. It is time for FB to take full responsibility for what they have created and either clean up the site or close it down. No other social media site has ever been as controversial as FB when it comes to these issues and surely they should be asking WHY?

  • anon

    Those silly Facebook pages are for people who are more miserable then those like Holmes, but are too afraid to end their own life–seriously.

  • http://www.errolruppconsulting.com Errol Rupp

    Trash em’. We will hear more about this on regular media than we can stand in the near future. Besides does anyone rally care about the opinions on facebook? Like wast your Saturday morning watching cartoons.

  • joshua

    Perhaps there needs to be a facebook page created to protest these pages. People do have aright to free speech. However, these pages are glorifying the violent actions of this man. Isn’t that, in some way, promoting senseless violence?
    I have not kept up with this case enough to know the motivations of the shooter. However, whatever those motivations may be, promoting the violence is not tolerable. People died and were injured because of one person. This wasn’t justice, and it wasn’t violence fighting to save somebody or group of people. It was senseless violence, and many people and families have suffered because of it. Bringing down these pages isn’t simply blocking free speech or beliefs, but blocking the promotion of senseless violence. perhaps people can find these pages, and click “report” and say it is promoting senseless violence. Maybe facebook will listen?

  • Josiah

    I love it! They are all trolling and any one who can’t tell are stupid. I, personally love dark humor, it’s probably my favorite kind. Not only does it give me a good laugh, it also makes others insanely mad, which makes it a lot funnier. But if you truly don’t like it, don’t go to the page! It’s that simple. Top Kek ~ Josiah