Facebook often pops up in the news for getting it wrong. But currently, it's home to a community page which is SO wrong, it's pretty unbelievable.
I guess the trouble with defining what is morally reprehensible is that different people have different ideas – apparently there is a grey area. But surely, the vast majority of the population would agree that a page entitled 'SIDS is funny because babies fall asleep and never wake up' pushes right through the boundaries?
The page was created on January 1st and at the point of writing has 86 'likes'.
That would be a confirmed 86 immature morons in the world then.
The page welcomes visitors with this: "I challenge you to tell me something funnier than babies falling asleep and never waking up again :) Every joke stated is purely fictional. If you don't share our humor, then this page isn't for you. Enter at your own risk. Enjoy."
And it is littered with pretty sick jokes from the creator(s) (many of which have comments running into the hundreds, a lot of them angry retorts, happily) and images, including a cake in the form of an apparently dead baby being sliced.
There are no images of real babies here, but the whole tone of the page is clearly intended to incite a strong reaction. Even a comment from a mother who says her baby boy died in her arms as she fed him is met with vicious comments, including: "No-one cares about your baby."
The vile page has probably been created by some kid who doesn't know better, who wants to get a rise out of people, and genuinely finds it amusing. He or she will probably tell their mates how very clever they are for creating it.
But what about Facebook itself? Where should it stand on making fun of people who have suffered the trauma of cot death? I checked its community standards page:
'HATE SPEECH: Facebook does not permit hate speech, but distinguishes between serious and humorous speech. While we encourage you to challenge ideas, institutions, events, and practices, we do not permit individuals or groups to attack others based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, disability or medical condition.'
Hmm. Grey area? Does Facebook agree that the jokes about babies dying from SIDS are just humorous speech? Or does not allowing people to be attacked based on a medical condition cover it?
'GRAPHIC CONTENT: ...Sharing any graphic content for sadistic pleasure is prohibited.
Clearly the person or people behind this page created it for a little sadistic pleasure. The question here is whether the content can actually be deemed as graphic. There are no actual babies, just the cake and some cruddy Photoshop creations that you could find elsewhere on in the internet should you be so inclined, accompanied by sick comments and captions.
But let's remember, Facebook is is pretty tough regarding its rules over pictures of women breastfeeding – even if a baby is in the picture, even if it is clear that a photograph is not pornographic but is of a woman in the process of nourishing her child, if you can see the boob, the image will be removed, lest it offend people.
So how many people could we estimate this page might offend? The minds boggles, but you'd hope it'd be more than might be affronted by a woman nursing her child.
Naturally, I asked Facebook for a response to some questions regarding the page and its own policies: Is it aware of the page? Does it deem the content to be 'humorous speech'? Has it been reported? And importantly, is it going to allow the page to remain online?
The short answer to that last question is yes. Although the content is, to many people – and particularly anyone affected by SIDS – highly offensive or hurtful, it doesn't officially break any Facebook rules. A spokesman said: "We take our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities very seriously and react quickly to remove reported content that violates our policies. Specifically, we're sensitive to content that includes pornography, bullying, hate speech and threats of violence.
"The goal of these policies is to strike a very delicate balance between giving people the freedom to express themselves and maintaining a safe and trusted environment.
"In general, groups and pages devoted to jokes, even disgusting and distasteful ones, do not violate our policies. Where these groups make real threats or statements of hate, however, we will remove them. We encourage people to report anything they feel violates our policies using the report links located throughout the site, or by using the reporting tools in our help centre at facebook.com/report.
"Specifically, dead baby jokes, groups and pages in general do not violate Facebook's Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. However, should there be any specific images believed to be displaying children at risk, we encourage the reporter to bring them to our attention so that we can investigate and take action accordingly."
What Facebook has begun to do is add a '[Controversial Humor]' tag to the title of pages which are likely to cause offense to some people and the page in question has received such a tag.
Currently, there are three pages on Facebook apparently fruitlessly campaigning to have the controversial page removed. The obvious answer to all this is, if you don't like it, don't look (you'd have to 'like' the page, or for a friend to comment on it, for any content to come to you) – and the questions over the rightness or wrongness of policing the internet, and freedom of speech, are big ones.
At the end of the day, I feel the cretins who created the page are rather like wasps: if we keep taking swipes at them (I certainly didn't feel compelled to comment on the page and fuel their fire), they'll only delight in the stinging, but if we ignore them perhaps they'll just go away and crawl back into their hole.
If you have been affected by SIDS, you can contact the cot death charity FSID on 0808 802 6868.