Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 April 2014

Facebook U-turn over 'shoot Neil Lennon' page

Neil Lennon

Facebook has reversed its decision not take down a web page calling for Celtic manager Neil Lennon to be shot.

The page, ‘Let’s get 100,000 people that want to see Neil Lennon get shot’, features a series of death threats directed at the former Northern Ireland international.

Last night Facebook bosses refused to take the page down, saying the comments did not represent a credible intention to kill Lennon and are nothing more than “jokey” and “pub talk”.

Howevere, the page was removed this morning. Facebook said it did not comment on individual cases, but said a team of experts had been called in to review the page.

They said it was reviewed on Monday and they did not see fit to remove it but it was reviewed again on Tuesday and had since been taken down.

Followers of the group have called for Lennon to be killed, with users posting threats including “ready, aim, fire” and “hang him high” on the site.

The group, set up just days after Lennon was sent bullets in the post, is the latest in a spate of death threats against the manager. The site had attracted more than 600 followers since it was created.

Followers of the page posted offensive references to the footballer’s religion, career and appearance, and one has written: “I wish death on you.”

A supporter of the Celtic manager wrote on the group: “This is absolutely disgusting. Just when you think people can't take things any further they do. It is shocking and anyone who signs up to it or thinks it is funny is not right in the head.”

However, a spokesman for Facebook said the page would not be deleted in its current state as it did not violate the company’s terms and conditions.

He said the number of complaints made about the group by concerned users was “irrelevant” in the decision.

“Facebook is a place where people can express their views and discuss things in an open way as they can and do in many other places, and as such we sometimes find people discussing topics others may find distasteful. However that is not a reason to stop a debate from happening,” he added.

“What one person finds offensive, another can find entertaining.”

Local councillors have condemned the page as “sick” and “disgusting”, and have urged Facebook to ban it from the site.

East Belfast Alliance MLA Chris Lyttle said the campaign was “abhorrent” and called its creators “nasty, cowardly and pathetic”.

Upper Bann MLA Dolores Kelly added that those responsible for the group were “warped individuals” and should be charged under hate crime legislation.

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