Facebook causes violent crime

Readers of recentish news, both proper and tabloid, will be aware that the UK is suffering a profusion of stabbings amongst the younger members of the population. Now some may question at this stage as to how much of this is real, and how much a classic moral panic (or possibly that it is becoming more frequent in London, which as UK-peeps will know often seems to be centre of the news), but without a doubt some kids are stabbing other kids with knives. In fact at the time of writing one such story is on the BBC news ticker. This is not good.

But now we (well, at least the 8 million daily readers of the Sun) know why they do it. What else has risen alongside the increase in southern knife-crime? Why, Facebook usage of course!

And by Facebook, the Poorhouse means that famous "shank website...aimed at the kids who carry knives", as the Sun calls it. Given until recently the word shank was only known by the Poorhouse as half of an amusing, yet dirty, bit of rhyming slang, he is obviously so not down with the kids that his Facebook profile might as well be deleted. For other uninitiates, shanking is "street slang for knifing" - so don't giggle if someone unexpectedly offers to shank you.

So, for those as blissfully ignorant as to the "horrifying shank threat" (*) that is integrated in Facebook, here's the explanation.

(*) NB: It is safe to assume any ridiculous over-hyperboled quotes are from the afore-mentioned Sun article)

Facebook allows people to write applications that are placed on a user's page, just to make it nice and untidy and waste yet more time. Most are absolute nonsense but one contains a deadly threat. Look at this screenshot image of pure evil.

Yes, it's the classic Superpoke, an otherwise fun little crapplication that allows you to bypass the immense effort of writing on someone's wall "I want to ride the Tardis with you" by clicking on the "I want to ride the Tardis with you" icon.  But as you can see in the extreme zoom (courtesy of course of the Sun) there is a "terrifying" shank icon. This in their screenshot sites mere centimetres away from the smack, slap and other violent sounding icons, but that sort of violence hasn't been in the news so much so can be safely ignored (see also a more recent review of Superpoke options (The Poorhouse, 17/8/08), revealing options to tase, bite, bodyslam, shock, trip, and defenestrate amongst other vicious evil).

This SICK game allows kids to STAB each other, see. One might think from this that the Sun's researchers got a bit confused and figured this was some e-commerce type offer whereby whatever you select to do is actually received by a hitman who after suitable remittance of cash carries out the physical option on your friend's physical body rather than sending them a cute little text & icon combo (sorry, of course the Poorhouse meant "a chilling message") to further clutter up the inanities of their Facebook profile - except for that it's not just the Sun. Or if it is, they've been making up quotes again.

If the authorities really want to get tough on knife crime, the CEO or directors of Facebook should be arrested for inciting violence.

Says "Uncle John", Uncle of Rob Knox, a teenage actor tragically killed via knife crime. Real knife crime that is, not a Superpoke. In fact, unbelievably, nowhere in articles about said tragedy could the Poorhouse find even the merest reference to that Website of Evil. Poor John, probably quite consumed with grief, could be excused for babbling such nonsense perhaps, but even anti-knife campaign groups (are there pro-knife campaign groups? Actually there probably are, sadly) are coming out with it.

It’s appalling. We completely condemn it.

Says a spokesperson for Urban Concepts, again about the Superpoke application rather than actual knife crime.

Has the Poorhouse lost any semblance of human compassion to find this outrage so bizarre? Perhaps so, but he really cannot see that this is the absolutely most worthwhile campaign the Sun could start to alleviate the actual evil of knife crime. It was however successful. Superpoke removed the option, and no-one was ever knifed in real life ever again (*). Phew.

(*) yet to be confirmed

And that's not the only evil Facebook has permitted. In scenes reminiscent of an old X-Files episode (called "Blood" for you para-geeks) in which a haunted bank ATM instructed a guy to "KILL 'EM ALL", there is screenshot evidence of Facebook not only allowing the cartoon "shanking" described above, but actually instructing people to commit violent sexual offences against their "friends". Outrageous. Check this:

(For anyone actually concerned about laying incitements charges/crazy tabloid articles about this screenshot, please look up CAPTCHA first).

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