It’s a sad day in social media when Facebook deletes Ranger Rick, the National Wildlife Federation’s beloved spokes-raccoon.
On Facebook, networks grow organically — often slowly — and by deleting Ranger Rick, the NWF‘s entire 500-person network was brutally poached.
Sure, this public relations gaff seems more to do with a flawed policy and/or housekeeping algorithm than contempt for nature conservation, but it’s still absurd. Perhaps it wouldn’t be so scandalicious if it weren’t for the fact that Paris Hilton and Hillary Clinton fakes roam wild:
. . . Anyone think the actual Hillary Clinton is checking who tagged her wall today? And for nonprofits like the NWF, creating a group or mascot profile protects the privacy of the staffers who work to reach out to members through social networking sites. Does Hillary’s Facebook staffer wants to have his/her personal info out there for 35,000 supporters to see?
But here’s the bottom line — of all the fake profiles on Facebook, why has Facebook targeted the beloved Ranger Rick? A quick search shows six fake Paris Hilton profiles. Why kill off Ranger Rick? Would it really have torn a hole in the fabric of the space-time continuum to look the other way while Ranger Rick spread cuteness across the Internet?
If so, it seems dubious that sponsored (read: billable) groups like Wal-Mart are welcome to market themselves despite intense community backlash. I’m not saying it’s wrong for Wal-Mart to be on Facebook, but can an eco-journalist raccoon get a break?
After speaking with the NWF’s Online Advocacy Manager, David Pierpoint, the group emailed GrokDotCom the following exclusive statement:
National Wildlife Federation‘s concern about having Ranger Rick’s profile deleted is centered on having the same opportunity and level of interaction with the Facebook community that candidates’ campaigns are given. If the door of political discourse is opened, then it is important that all voices have the opportunity to be heard.
We believe Ranger Rick (40th birthday this year) is not a senseless character, but a fully realized representative and educator of millions of our constituents’ voices who care passionately about important issues. We put our resources into creating that profile as a way to put a personal touch to those issues as 500 “real” people on his friends list. We received nothing but positive feedback from friends who received a “Happy Birthday” message from Ranger Rick or were told about an important event NWF was putting on. All of that is important to the relationships we want to have with those who care about wildlife and the environment.
Isn’t that what social networking is all about?
It is also important that not only NWF but many other non-profits are given the opportunity to work with Facebook and its community in a positive way, and we are open to those possibilities. But let the people decide who they want to be friends with, not Facebook.
Guess it’s back to reaching fans — “ages 7 and up” — in the trusty ol’ magazine for Ranger Rick. Looks like lip gloss beats recycled glossy once again.
What now for everyone’s second (third?) favorite Harvard dropout? Will Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg step up and free Ranger Rick, or will fans have to rely on the NWF’s MySpace profile instead? Care to email Facebook and tell them what you think?
Maybe Zuckerberg’s too
good smart to sell for billions of dollars, but Facebook doesn’t seem to have a problem selling out for free.