Italy Troubled Over Mafia On Facebook

    January 12, 2009

Italian anti-mafia activists are alarmed by the presence of Facebook groups that are glorifying the behavior of jailed mafia bosses.

"Fan clubs" of jailed mafia bosses Bernardo Provenzano, arrested in 2006 after nearly 40 years on the run, and Toto Riina, arrested in 1993 after 24 years at large, have sprung up on the Italian pages of Facebook.

"What worries us is that the great majority of people who have adhered to these pages are young," Tonio Dell’Olio, a leader of the anti-mafia group Libera (Free), told Reuters Television.

AOL Launches MediaGlow
Salvatore (Totò) Riina
Mafia Boss

Libera takes part in a number of anti-mafia activities such as buying farms and buildings confiscated from the mafia and putting them to good social use like building schools and drug rehabilitation centers.

Another anti-mafia activists that is critical of the pro-mafia Facebook pages is Rita Borsellino, sister of magistrate Paolo Borsellino who was killed by a mafia car bomb in 1993. The bombing was ordered by Riina and Provenzano.

"An instrument like Facebook, which is universal and can be used by anyone, should make an examination of conscience and give itself some rules instead of making heroes out of these murderers," said Borsellino.

Borsellino said that Italy should have laws against those who are pro-mafia just as it does for those who are pro-Nazi or Fascist.

Since an Italian newspaper wrote about the pro-mafia Facebook pages last week, magistrates in Italy have warned that those who join the groups could be investigated on suspicion of involvement in organized crime.

One group has already shut itself down after being featured in the Italian newspaper.

Anti-mafia groups are split on censoring the pages and some suggest they should follow other models such as creating anti-mafia groups on Facebook, which have been created since the media publicity about the pro-mafia groups.