Aurora shooter James Holmes isn't the first mass murderer with a Facebook fan page, and he won't be the last.
Earlier this month Huffington Post profiled a Canadian woman with scary devotion to necrophiliac killer Luka Rocco Magnotta. You don't have to be a crazy person to "like" a psychotic criminal on Facebook — but it helps.
While the vast majority of the internet, including Facebook users, have nothing but hatred for James Holmes, he does have a small contingent of fans on Facebook. The largest fan page, which appeared the same day as the Aurora shooting massacre, has over 800 followers.
Pages like these put Facebook in an odd position: as a private company, the social networking site can censor what it finds objectionable, but that's not a power it exercises often. While spokesman Fred Wolens called the James Holmes fan page "incredibly distasteful," he clarified that it "doesn't violate our terms."
Nevertheless, Facebook is monitoring these pages closely, just in case they cross the line in a manner that goes against the site's "Community Standards."
Safety is Facebook's top priority. You may not credibly threaten to harm others, or organize acts of real-world violence. We remove content and may escalate to law enforcement when we perceive a genuine risk of physical harm, or a direct threat to public safety.
It is not, however, an issue of free speech, as some have loudly protested.
It's easy to view pages like the James Holmes fan page as indicative of larger trends — whether that means a desensitization toward violence, or a more widespread lack of compassion. Pop culture professor Robert Thompson cautions people not to read too much into it.
Probably the amount of attention that we give to this stuff is totally disproportionate to how most people feel. But because anybody with the Internet has got an international distribution system at their fingertips, if you start something that is a pro-mass-murderer fan page, it's going to get the attention of people.
He concluded, "This page doesn't say thing about America, besides maybe that there are too many Facebook pages."
[Image via AP]