DES MOINES, Iowa — We told you about the Facebook page, “People of the Iowa State Fair” Tuesday. The page contains random pictures of people at the Iowa State Fair. Some of the pictures are innocuous – people riding the sky glider or posing with the State Fair Queen. Others have been described as hurtful, distasteful and a form of cyber-bullying.
The Iowa State Fair is not affiliated with the page and has asked Facebook to take it down. However, Facebook says it does not violate “community standards.” Even more frustrating for State Fair organizers, the administrator of the page is anonymous.
We’re not any closer to finding out the name(s) of the administrator(s), but we did get some answers as to why they want to remain anonymous.
When pressed to reveal their identity, the person(s) behind the page responded, “It is irrelevant and could affect (sic) the safety of our families.”
When asked if the administrator of the Facebook page had concerns about the safety of those posting, commenting or appearing on the page, they said, “Those in the pics are not named, and in a huge percentage of the pics, faces are not visible. Those posting comments and pics do so publicly with their name right on it. Hopefully this keeps them from crossing the line.”
The administer goes on to say the page follows all Facebook standards and rules and defends the page by saying, “I have read comments every bit as offensive on many, many other Facebook pages. It is the real world, and people will be themselves, and you are not guaranteed the right to go through life un-offended.”
The administrator also points out that the comments and posts are protected by the right to free speech. “But, the anonymity will remain as a safety mechanism. If I could extend that protection to others, we would, but that might allow them to get more unruly.”
Here is the full response:
“We would be happy to answer questions or make a statement, but the name(s) of our administration team are irrelevant. The fact is that this is a voluntary public forum, and the content and comments are entirely posted by users. Each post has with it the name (which is a link) of the person who posted it, thereby taking personal responsibility and accountability for their own posts and comments. The administrators of this page do not go to the fair and take these pics, nor do we search the internet for content. Everything is posted by the users. The page has gotten over 20,000 likes, 2,000 content posts, and over 1,000,000 comments in the past week, and policing that kind of influx of content is impossible for an unpaid staff. Plus we highly revere free speech here. The people on this page are still on facebook, and still regulated by all the terms of service applicable; if someone gets beligerant or hateful, they can be removed. We do always work with people when a specific item causes problems, and we remove these posts promptly. People watching is one of the great traditions of the Iowa State Fair, and this site was made to allow people worldwide to enjoy that. I would be happy to answer any further questions you have or make a more elaborate statement if you would like, but identities of admins here are 100% irrelevant. This idea has been put into the world, and embraced by 63,000+ people- if I took the site down tomorrow, someone else would have a new one by the end of the day. And they may not moderate it with the same considerations we do. They may be unwilling to remove items. They may add hateful captions. We do none of that, and we do not encourage anyone else to. But 63,000 people in a free open forum will ultimately do as they wish with no regard to our attempts to change, censor, or stop them. The one with the most control is the user. The internet is full of offensive and disgusting things, and if I stumble across a website that offends me, I re-direct my browser elsewhere immediately and do not go back. People here will like the page, browse through hundreds of photos, and then express how offended they are. But they came here and stayed here by their own free will. We cannot protect people from themselves, nor should we be expected to. This page is here for fun, and I will concede that people posting rude comments are jerks- and they are putting their names on what they say. Looking for who to hold accountable for offensive content? The page is literally an itemized list.“