A Facebook note recently posted by Sarah Palin in which the former GOP vice presidential candidate called the planned mosque near Ground Zero "an intolerable and tragic mistake" was deleted from the social networking site -- apparently by Facebook users who reported the note as "racist/hate speech."
The note was originally posted on July 20 but disappeared; Palin reposted it today, with an addendum saying. "The original post of this statement (on July 20, 2010) was somehow unintentionally deleted by mistake or technical glitch."
However, it seems that the "deletion" was actually caused by Facebook users who reported Palin's note as containing "racist/hate speech." There was at least one campaign on Tumblr to have users report Palin's note.
Tumblr blogger "moneyries" -- also known as Brian Ries, a freelance contributor to NBC New York orchestrated one such campaign -- posted on July 22: "Sarah Palin's Facebook note 'has either been deleted, or does not exist.' SHE HAS BEEN REFUDIATED!!!"
(UPDATE: Ries on Friday wrote a piece on the Daily Beast about his "social experiment")
Facebook allows users to report the contents of any post for reasons including being "racist/hate speech" to "sexually explicit" or "threatening." According to Facebook's Security FAQ, under "Sensitive Issues," when a user is reported, "Facebook investigates the issue and makes a determination as to whether or not the content should remain on the site based on our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities."
However, it seems that in this case, Palin's note was automatically removed; it seems enough people reported it as offensive.
"We're investigating this incident to determine whether the content in question was removed by an automated system as a result of user reports that it violated our terms," a Facebook spokesperson told Politico. "We want Facebook to be a place where people can openly discuss issues and express their views while respecting the rights and feelings of others. The goal of our policies is to strike a very delicate balance between giving people the freedom to express their opinions and viewpoints – even those that may be controversial to some – and maintaining a safe and trusted environment."
In the note, Palin criticized Mayor Michael Bloomberg for saying that "a decision not to allow the building of a mosque at that sacred place would somehow violate American principles of tolerance and openness."
"Many Americans, myself included, feel it would be an intolerable and tragic mistake to allow such a project ... to go forward on such hallowed ground," she wrote. "This is nothing close to 'religious intolerance,' it's just common decency."
If Facebook is any indication, many Americans also disagree.