Not content with more conventional ways of expressing disapproval, an unidentified Facebook user recently posted a poll asking whether President Obama should be assassinated. The poll was outrageous, and Facebook forced its removal even before the Secret Service called. The larger questions raised by the incident, however, are how much control companies should exert over the use of the megaphones they provide online, and how much information social networks expose about the people who use them.
The inflammatory poll, created over the weekend with an application available to any Facebook user, offered four possible answers to the question "Should Obama be killed?": yes, maybe, "if he cuts my healthcare" and no. Originally published on the application developer's Facebook page, it spread as voters notified their networks of friends about it. Users also could complain about the poll through links provided by Facebook and the developer, a start-up called Advanced Alien Technology. A Facebook spokesman said the company received the first objection early Monday, and the poll came down shortly thereafter.