One of the many reasons Facebook can claim 400 million active users is the relatively low bar to entry: if you’ve got an Internet connection, you can create a profile.
This can lead to some fun fake celebrity pages. Sometimes, though, the results are far more disturbing: A page in the name of Osama bin Laden that included tapes of ravings by Islamic extremists went up March 25, ABC Newsreports. The site attracted 1,000 fans before Facebook discovered the page and zapped it Friday.
"People often attempt to register fake accounts under the name of famous or infamous people," a Facebook spokesman told ABC.
It’s a frightening enough world without hate and terror-mongering playing out on an Internet service designed to connect people. So we’re going to choose take some cheer in the success of another recent fake Facebook page, this one featuring the profile of a new “South Park” character who actually deserves some friends: Kip Drordy.
For the uninitiated, Kip debuted on the April 7 episode, which focused on Stan’s refusal to join Facebook, despite the repeated hectoring of his pals. He gives in only after Cartman, Kyle and Kenny make a page for him.
Meanwhile, Kyle discovers Kip, a third-grade outcast with no friends on Facebook or in real life, and friends him out of sympathy. Kyle starts hemorrhaging Facebook friends when others see he’s befriended a lonely dork like Kip, who lives for thumbs-up responses to his inane status postings like, “Ate a pork chop for dinner and had nice applesauce too!”
The episode quickly branches off into some surreal territory: when a fed-up Stan tries to quit Facebook, he’s sucked into a Tron-like cyber dimension where friend counts and Yahtzee victories determine physical power and social status.
The episode, part Facebook-obsession satire and perhaps part commentary on cyberbullying, offers a rare happy ending for Kip. Instead of the usual ridicule served up for rejects on “South Park,” Kips turns out to be a likeable, sympathetic figure, hopefully worthy of a return appearance.
After the “You Have 0 Friends” episode aired, Mashable reports, “a guy from North Carolina” recreated Kip’s Facebook page, complete with status updates like, “Drank a glass of water.” As of this writing, the Kip page has more than 150,000 friends.
That’s far more, it should be noted, than the 1,000 cretins who became fans of bin Laden.
Only on Facebook can a loser from “South Park” crush the biggest loser of them all.
Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NY City News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992. Follow him on Twitter.