Iowa State Fairgoers Are Fair Game on Facebook

DES MOINES, Iowa – The Facebook page is called “The People Of The Iowa State Fair,” but the Iowa State Fair itself wants nothing to do with it.

“We don’t have any affiliation with it,” said Lori Chappell, the spokesperson for the Iowa State Fair.

The Facebook page allows people to post pictures taken at the fair.  Some pictures depict fun, fair activities, like riding the sky glider.  Others mock fairgoers for their attire, their weight or their assumed sexual orientation.  Almost any picture, or comment, is fair game.

“It’s kind of a hurtful Facebook page,” said Chappell.

According to Chappell, the state fair has filed a complaint with Facebook and asked that the page be taken down, but the response remains the same. “We keep getting back from them, ‘It doesn’t violate community standards.’  So they don’t do anything about it.”

Brett Bullis did something when she saw a picture of her 5-year-old nephew on the page.  People commenting on the picture criticized the boy’s grandmother for tethering him to her with what some called a “leash.”

Bullis expressed her anger in a comment on the page and said, “I still enjoy seeing the silliness of what some people will wear to the fair… I just think kids should be off-limits to make fun of.”

The picture of Bullis’ nephew has been taken down, but you’ll find plenty of other pictures of children and adults who have no idea their pictures are being taken, let alone posted on a public site.

Even more frustrating, Chappell said the fair has no idea who is administering the Facebook page. “We’ve done a little of our own investigating, but have not come up with anything.”

The person, or entity, who administers the page remains anonymous.

A person claiming to be the page administrator did reach out to The Des Moines Register’s Kyle Munson in August of 2013. “At the inception of the page, I was sharing all posts by others. Many were funny, some were mean. But at the beginning we wanted content, so we put up everything,” the statement said. “This is Facebook, so if someone gets too far out of line, they stand to face the consequences for their words. I do not feel that I must have and enforce my own matching set of standards when Facebook’s standards still apply here.”

Some people commenting on the pictures call it “bullying at an adult level.”

That may be the case, but attorneys said there are few legal remedies to the situation.  People posting and commenting are protected by the right to free speech.  It’s not a privacy issue either, because the fairgrounds are public property.

Some say the page is a sign of the times – a time when comments, no matter how crude, can be disseminated to the masses in a matter of seconds.  There’s no way to stop it, but as one person commented on the page, “You should be ashamed.”

We reached out to the administrators of the Facebook page. Their response is here. 

21 comments

  • mark in Des Moines

    The state fair is supposed tto be a place of fun and where families and people can escape the BS of life. I would like to see one year where the politicians stay away from it and leave people to have an enjoyable time rather than listening to all the political hype and BS…..

    • Kelly

      True. The day will come for those who bully. No exceptions, not even for Governor Branstad, who is being sued for bullying. Stay tuned for his next four years.

  • iamjoespinkyfinger

    If you go to the page, the page owner has only saw fit to “like” two other pages on Facebook, the official Iowa State Fair and some no name bar band called Cirrus Minor. Logical thinking and a publicly searchable WHOIS database can most likely yield further clues.

    • gijanearng

      They’ve gone and like a bunch more pages now, strangely after you posted this comment. Seems like someone is just a little bit worried being found out who they are.

  • Kelly

    Facebook will take down a picture of a woman breast feeding, but refuses to take down these bullying comments? Shame on Facebook and those who ridicule people to make themselves feel better.

  • John Dean Heidenreich

    It’s free speech. The state fair is a public commons and in the public commons no one has an expectation of privacy. I’m sure the state police have surveilance cameras all over the place and most people don’t complain about that, although they should because that is the police state. If you go though the naked body scanners atan airport, TSA is mocking youin the back room, or if you’re a good looking woman and it’s a male TSA person on the monitor they oogle and make sexual comments. There has even been very famous female movie and TV stars that have gone though the naked body scanners whohave been approached by male TSA screeners with a printout of the image of their body and the male screener would ask for an autograph.
    But if people take pictures of other people at the state fair that show their fat butt or whatever LOOK OUT!!! That has to be banned and stopped and call for FB to take it down.

    • linnivy

      John Dean …….My question is what kind of a person would take pics of people at the fair (or anywhere else) then post those pics and make fun of those people? A person that does this is just simply a loser.

      • harrisbock

        Almost everyone has a cell phone with a camera. It is very easy to get photoed and never know it unless you see someone point the phone at you. What do you think is going to happen if Google Glass gets cheap and takes off. Every person with one that you can see, they can see you and could be video recording and taking pics…and putting it on the internet as it happens.

    • iamjoespinkyfinger

      Actually John, when the pictures are posted with commentary for context, the laws are different. For instance one photo of a scatily clad woman identifies her as a prostitute working the fair. That woman would have a cause of action against the person who took it and posted it, and the page owner makes themselves liable when they willingly choose to REPOST them.

      Se there’s the thing, the page owner is a blatant liar, they routinely report the photos, assuming control over the content.

      But rumor has it the age owner might be getting served with certain legal papers, so in reality, in about a month, the owner of the page will be publicly identified in a lawsuit, and then he can deal with that being public record.

      • gijanearng

        Don’t go posting anything about someone threatening legal suit over there or the admins will immediately ban you and remove the “offending” comments. Yup, they are policing their page, but only for their paranoia now.

    • Jean

      First of all, you have no idea what free speech is. Secondly, it’s already been ruled that the fair is not a public commons as we just saw with the preacher that has been barred from certain grounds areas of the fair. Thirdly, FB is a private corporation and can remove content at it’s will. That has no bearing on the 1st Amendment. Same goes with the page administrators who are still subject to the TOS of Facebook.

  • Jamie

    I love this page. I love to ppl watch and I’m not here to make fun of ppl just see fun, crazy and out of the norm things. Shoot if I’m taking a nap on a bench at the fair I expect someone to take my picture or if I’m wearing a raccoon tail around what else do you think is gonna happen. I do feel like ppl said rude, unnecessary comments but I don’t see any problem with posting pictures… if they are putting them selves out there to the public at the fair how is that different then it being on public social media

    • Jean

      Considering that there are people on there posting photos of kids they see in public restrooms or or like one in particular, letting it fly in public, that could be very well the case.

    • Jean

      Considering that they left up a photo that someone took of a minor urinating in public, my guess would be that too.

    • gijanearng

      Considering they left up a photo someone took of a child going to the bathroom in public (behind some food cart or something of that nature), that seems like a fair enough guess.

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