A few weeks ago, Crabby Old Lady received an email from Facebook advising her that a blogger she knows wished to “friend” her. Crabby had never looked at the Facebook website but figured “what the hell” and accepted.
Since then, invitations tumble into Crabby's inbox at the rate of two or three a week. She has accepted all but those from a few people she never heard of and she briefly dickered around with her page that was created when she accepted the first friend.
Mostly, they want to know things like the name of Crabby's college and her major which hold no interest for her at age 66. There are networks and groups to join, requests to write on friends' "walls", products to buy, charities to contribute to and - well, Crabby got bored trying to figure out the purpose.
There is no real conversation that Crabby can find as takes place on our blogs and anyway, this blog and Crabby's life take up most of her time and there doesn’t appear to be much going on at Facebook except people collecting friends.
Then, earlier this week, Nicole Freydberg, who blogs at Freydblog, emailed Crabby regarding hate groups aimed at elders on Facebook. When she investigated, Crabby found dozens of them. Here are some examples of Facebook hate speech (with poor grammar, spelling and four-letter words intact):
Who is with me on this, who thinks old people in school should be taken into the quad and be tarred and feathered for their annoyance , stupidity, and outright wasting of time.
Children and old people should probably go to hell. Children are bastards. Old people are surly and they smell weird. Fuck that!
Too long have irate old farts been a hazard too society. They can’t hear, they can’t change their own diapers, and they sure as hell can’t drive!
F*CK** OLD PEOPLE
OLD PEOPLE SUCK AND THEY R GONNA DIE SOON ANYWAY!!!
Ugh yeah old people are so gross. Theyre all wrinkly and smelly. Just thinking about them makes me angry!
sometimes i see old people in wheelchairs and i have a strong urge to push them down the stairs.
Old People Make Me Want To Puke
Old people drive like they fuck: slow and sloppy
I like to beat the living crap out of old people
Let us unite and join for a common cause, abolish social security and legalize euthanasia.
[You can find a long, long list of these Facebook hate groups in a post at Nicole’s site.]
The above statements are maybe five percent of what Crabby Old Lady found in under 30 minutes. Just kids, you say? Not important? No one suddenly becomes a bigot at age 50; it is inculcated from youth. These are the people who will one day run companies, governments and vote, and they will carry these prejudices with them as they grow up, move into adult world and make decisions about old people.
To make clear how disgusting this hate speech is, Crabby applied The TGB Bias Test to some of the above excerpts wherein the words “women” or “blacks” are substituted for “old people”:
- Old People Make Me Want To Puke
- Black people make me want to puke
- old people in school should be taken into the quad and be tarred and feathered
- women in school should be taken into the quad and be tarred and feathered
- I like to beat the living crap out of old people
- I like to beat the living crap out of black people
- Ugh yeah old people are so gross
- Ugh yeah black people are so gross
Would all those No. 2 statements be tolerated on Facebook? To check, Crabby searched for them as she had with “old people”, “senior citizens”, etc. and found none. Since she doubts race and gender bias are nonexistent among 30 million members, Crabby can only believe Facebook owners remove those offensive postings. But as within most of our society, hate speech against elders is acceptable at Facebook.
Although it is frightening to know that so many kids are growing up with hateful attitudes toward old people, Crabby Old Lady faults the investors and owners of Facebook for allowing these offensive groups to continue and increase in number. The company's terms of service contain this warning:
You may not post or share Content that:
- is obscene, pornographic or sexually explicit
- depicts graphic or gratuitous violence
- makes threats of any kind or that intimidates, harasses, or bullies anyone
- is derogatory, demeaning, malicious, defamatory, abusive, offensive or hateful
But who enforces this policy? Not Facebook, at least not when abusive language targets elders. There is no contact email except for the media. Each entry within each group contains a “report” button that launches a form where objectionable material can be submitted for review. But there are thousands of hateful comments like those Crabby quoted above and it should not be users’ responsibility to report each and every one.
By allowing these groups to exist, Facebook has become Hatebook.
Meanwhile, big media is fawning all over their latest internet darling, 23-year-old Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, as in this Time magazine interview last week. Apparently, the reporter cares more about big numbers, IPOs and stock options than Facebook's ageist content.
Crabby Old Lady is ashamed and embarrassed to have allowed herself to be part of this website. She has sent her objections to the press email address and deactivated her Facebook account. (Full removal is not allowed.) It would be good if other elder Facebook members would write on their own blogs about the site's tolerance of ageist bigotry and join Crabby in canceling accounts and writing to Facebook.
Nothing like this ever changes unless you make a lot of noise about it.
[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Matty has an - uh, unique deterrent for a nursing home Lothario in I Think I'm Going to Hell.]