34-year-old Ryan Dunn, an American reality television personality and daredevil best known for being a member of the Jackass crew, died yesterday in a car crash along with his friend, 30-year-old Zachary Hartwell. Dunn and his friends were drinking hours before the accident, according to a photo shared on Dunn's Tumblr blog (since removed nut reposted on BuzzFeed). Despite this, alcohol has not been mentioned by police as a factor in the tragic event. Nevertheless, movie critic Roger Ebert posted the following on Twitter (one, two):
Friends don't let jackasses drink and drive.
Perez Hilton's readers agree with me and not with Perez about my tweet on Ryan Dunn. He drank, he drove, 2 people died. http://bit.ly/k6Uh9Y
Understandably, the first tweet was taken as insensitive by many, including by Perez Hilton, an American blogger and television personality. Others sided with Ebert, who later apologized that the tweet may have sounded cruel to some readers but still defended his message that no one should be allowed to drink and drive. Still, some decided to punish Ebert by complaining reporting his Facebook Page to the social network. Here's what Ebert later posted on his Twitter feed (one, two, three):
Facebook has removed my page in response, apparently, to malicious complaints from one or two jerks. http://t.co/RdzUxll
Facebook! My page is harmless and an asset to you. Why did you remove it in response to anonymous jerks? Makes you look bad.
Thank you, Facebook. My page is back online.
The Twitter history shows it took Facebook four hours to respond appropriately. The page is now once again full of name calling and arguments between fans either supporting or attacking the critic. While nobody can argue with the "don't drink and drive" message, the stuntman's friends are still furious about his tweets.
Ebert has since posted a blog post titled Friends don't let friends drink and drive. Here's an excerpt where he tries to clarify his stance:
To begin with, I offer my sympathy to Ryan Dunn's family and friends, and to those of Zachary Hartwell, who also died in the crash. I mean that sincerely. It is tragic to lose a loved one. I also regret that my tweet about the event was considered cruel. It was not intended as cruel. It was intended as true.
Even if his message is indeed true, it's not what people affected want to hear right after they learn their friends were killed in a car crash. Ebert admits that he should not have tweeted so soon:
I don't know what happened in this case, and I was probably too quick to tweet. That was unseemly.
Let's backpedal to the Facebook part of the story. If this wasn't such a high-profile event, would the social network have reacted so quickly? No, and we've seen this movie before. It seems the social network often accidentally removes or disables a Facebook Page or an account. Remember when Facebook banned Mark Zuckerberg?
Sometimes it's a computer error and sometimes it's a human error, but either way the company clearly needs to work on minimizing how frequently this happens. I realize it's probably a minute amount in comparison to how many correct blocks Facebook makes, but it wouldn't hurt for the social network to explain what steps it is taking to improve its reporting systems.