Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Global Animal Welfare Group Sets Precedent Being Shut Down By Facebook

On Friday October 18, Facebook removed the page for Let's Adopt! Global, an organization I have been quite outspoken about the past two years. People began questioning how such a a decision came to be. Was the organization re-branding itself? Was it the result of actions taken by "Let's Adopt! Global's many detractors, the individuals they refer to as "haters"? Was it simply a Facebook glitch? Did the president Viktor Larkhill request the page be taken down just days before a court case? Eventually he stated stated the page was removed after a, "malicious coordinated action" and the "people that have orchestrated this outage are the same ones that will soon be sitting in a bench in front of a Massachusetts judge as defendants in a landmark suit against defamation."  His comments came via email, the third he has written this year pleading for people to save his organization. If an organization I had supported sent me three emails in ten months pleading for funds for legal fees and to cover over $20 000 in debt to veterinarians, I would run for the hills.

As the weekend progressed, more information came to light. People who had for years complained to Facebook about Let's Adopt! Global targeting them with threats and/or hate speech began receiving messages from Facebook that posts were being removed on the Facebook page as they were a clear violation of terms of service. Facebook's reasons included hate speech and pornography, among others. What is interesting is the posts had been reported over a three year period by people who had never even met before, though soon they would find unity in that they had all been targets of the posts, but it wasn't until Friday that Facebook finally took action. Perhaps Facebook is simply slow when it comes to removing posts. Perhaps Facebook finally looked at the sheer number of complaints and said, "enough is enough!" It's possible a post was made on the Let's Adopt Global page that was directed to an unknown employee who looked further into the past three years of complaints. It could be the Toronto Police contacted Facebook after Viktor Larkhill posted a picture of himself in front of one of their stations, stating he was "chasing rats". For security purposes police take such actions very seriously. Whatever the reason, at least for now the Let's Adopt Global Facebook page is nowhere to be found.

Among the posts reported? One was from the president to one woman telling her he would be "seeing her soon", while in another he told one woman to "sell her ass" to pay for a lawyer. The president informed one woman he had heard she sold her babies as sex slaves, and he told another he was informed that yours truly operates a sex ring right here in Toronto where people have sex with animals. That's just four of the over 50 posts made by Let's Adopt Global or one of its representatives that were removed. The number is increasing as more people are receiving messages from Facebook. Who knows, maybe Facebook didn't like these bullying comments being posted on the site.

I guess it's time for you to decide. Is this the result of the haters and a carefully constructed campaign so intricate in its design that Facebook fell for it? Or did Facebook simply review complaints about posts much like the aforementioned and act of its own free will in determining that the posts were in fact hate speech? Are the Toronto Police "haters"? How about Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg?

Do you know who has haters? PETA. McDonalds. Nathon Winograd. The OSPCA. I'm sure there are a few other thousand organizations that on a daily basis face opposition by well organized detractors. The only difference I see here is those organizations still have fully functional public Facebook pages. How on earth can that be? Perhaps it is because not one of the organizations' presidents has ever posted that one of its detractors sells her children into the sex trade, though I may be way off the mark on that. Yup, it must be the hater's and the haters alone. In no way should Let's Adopt Global accept any form of responsibility. Doing so would demonstrate to others that the board of directors of the organization may in fact share more than one brain cell.

The defamation case instigated by Let's Adopt Global will be before a Massachusetts court today. The first step will be arguments based on jurisdiction, as Let's Adopt Global has named nearly 40 defendants in at least six different countries. According to Let's Adopt Global, "Most of them have been served. Others....are evading process by hiding under fake names, at times hiding their criminal past and convictions; others, are simply hiding behind shut windows, cowardly evading the court officer while living in fear of their INEVITABLE appointment with justice." My math may be rusty but I'm pretty sure roughly 10 out of 40 does not most make. There's also delicious irony to be found in the president using a fake name in his email. Keep in mind the statement has come from a man who once sent an email saying he was leaving Turkey to go to Spain where no one was trying to sue him. Cowardly indeed.

Shoud this case continue beyond jurisdictional arguments it will be interesting to see how a judge reacts to this statement made by the president of Let's Adopt! Global, where he instructs another what I can only assume is a way to maximize donations :

"Well (sic) take the dog to your home. I will take tons of pictures in different positions, with the dog wearing different scarfs and leashes.. It will look like they were taken in different times. We will also take pics of the dog in shops and in the street... It will be a full photo reportage. Then I will take the dog and do a Chop Suey. I will send the dog to ******* on the Dog Air Express and she will rehome her from her Tierheim. We will cover all expenses. Well (sic) be sending those pics over a space of weeks. If they want to go visit you you won't be availabe (sic) because you are very busy. In a month time well (sic) send them an email saying the dog died over night in her sleep."

Let's Adopt Global has stated this message was taken completely out of context. I guess that's why we have courtrooms...

One last thing.....when it comes to donations, you might as well take Let's Adopt! Global at their own words.

The organization spends donations IMMEDIATELY,
and is thus will be broke in a week, according to the president
there is no safety net.

Earlier this year, the president states the organization has reserves,
and only an IDIOT with zero understanding of financial aspects
of an organization would use up a safety net that would
simply be eroded in a couple weeks. Just who is he referring to
as an idiot?

Now I'm no financial adviser, but if I had as much invested in my organization and the animals as the president of Let's Adopt Global contends to have, here is what I would not do. I would not send out a mass plea for donations telling people my organization is broke, especially a mere two weeks after publicly posting about a trip I had just taken across the globe. Rather I would use my own money to ease the destitute financial state of my organization. Clearly this man has enough of his own money to travel from country to country. Is it to much to ask he fork a buck or two over to the animals? I guess not. I guess that's where you come in. If there indeed is only enough money for a week more worth of operations, why has the court case not been dropped? Has the president placed his own ego ahead of these desperate animals? Who knows. All I know is my wallet still refuses to open for anyone but my local no-kill shelters.

Update October 25

The Let's Adopt! Global page has been republished on Facebook, raising even more questions. People are suggesting anything from the page's downtime coming due to a temporary suspension as a result of hate speech to the opinion the president himself took the page down as a strategy to gain more donations and/or attention. The president has maintained the position it is the fault of the haters. What is interesting is that while the page has been republished, and so many of the animals used to solicit donations are in Spain where the president lives, the actual Facebook page is not viewable to Spain. Baffling.

Still no word on the court case. Of course I will update when any decision made by the judge becomes public. No wonder more soap operas are being taken off the air....all one needs to get a daily fix of drama is log on to Facebook!

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