The 10 craziest Facebook groups
FB may have hundreds of millions of users, but judging by its campaign groups it won’t change the world anytime soon.
One of the biggest and most popular crazes of the past few years has been online social networking. Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and Bebo, among others, have been bringing together schoolchildren, students and adults of various ages. There are now 24million Facebook accounts in the UK, making it Britain’s biggest civil society, with a level of participation way beyond the wildest dreams of any of the political parties.
There is much talk of the social power that social networks possess. A Facebook group successfully campaigned to make Rage Against the Machine’s ‘Killing in the Name’ the Christmas number one in the UK, confounding the idea that this prized slot in the hit parade would inevitably go to the winner of Simon Cowell’s talent show, The X-Factor. This campaign was declared a great example of people power, and commentators have since claimed that Facebook could be used as a political weapon.
But let’s be honest: a campaign over the Christmas number one is a very long way from mass social revolt or even from influencing an important political decision. The majority of Facebook groups/events/campaigns should not be taken seriously. Although Facebook does have an estimated 321million users worldwide, it is a form of entertainment rather than an arena for political transformation.
Here are 10 examples of crazy Facebook groups; some have made an impact, some are funny, others are plain weird.
10. Peter Andre Deserves Custody of His Children. Constructed shortly after singer Peter’s famous split from model/businesswoman wife Katie Price, the group has 147 members, a rather demoralising number in comparison to other campaigns which gather over a million members. The group declares that Andre is simply a nice guy and uses a quote from Chantelle Houghton (former winner of UK Celebrity Big Brother) as evidence for Katie Price’s poor parenting skills. The group seems to suggest an obsession on Facebook with celebrity gossip; popular FB groups are often about celeb stories rather than serious campaigns.
9. Childbirth is a Piece of Piss, You Ain’t Been Kicked in the Balls. Reversing a familiar female complaint, this site suggests that getting kicked in the testicles is more painful than giving birth. It has nearly 1,500 members. It does at least give some quite funny pieces of evidence to back up its slightly controversial claim, such as ‘women choose to go through childbirth multiple times, wow if it was just so painful the first time you just thought you’d go through it again? If a man was unfortunate enough to get kicked in the balls he’d simply prefer to eat his own face [than go through it again].’ I don’t think even the creator of this group would argue that this is serious, but it is a perfect example of a Facebook group which pokes fun at ideas and statements that people hear growing up.
8. If One Million People Join We Will Move to Finland. This group was set up by an Australian couple at the beginning of 2010. It is some way off reaching its target of one million with just over 100,000 members. ‘If One Million People Join…’ has become a standard format for Facebook groups. In the majority of cases, Facebook groups are about having a laugh, or daring people to sign up for some mad outcome.
7. Get John Terry and Wayne Bridge on Jeremy Kyle. If daytime TV shows that feature ‘real’ people with ‘real’ issues are good enough for the working class (and the long-time-without-working class), who air their dirty washing in public only to receive patronising advice from the host, then why not for the rich and famous, too? This group pokes fun at the recent revelation that England football captain John Terry had an affair with his England teammate’s ex-girlfriend. The group has 940 members and the creator claims that while England boss Fabio Capello cannot deal with the conflict, Jeremy Kyle should uses his arsenal of DNA tests and lie detectors to sort it out.
6. Can This Banana Peel Get More Fans than Jedward? A campaign making fun of two twins called John and Edward who lasted a lot longer than anyone thought they should on the aforementioned X-Factor. The group has nearly 4,000 members, and while it is certainly scathing of the almost talent-free brothers, it’s done in a tongue-in-cheek manner. With Jedward’s cover of ‘Ice Ice Baby’ expected to make it into the Top 10, this Facebook group has clearly had little real impact so far.
5. If One Million People Join Nothing Will Happen. A satire on the pointlessness of Facebook groups, this one is itself a major flop, with only 300 members. Still, it makes some good points. ‘Gavin and Stacey decide their own schedules and Friday will always be a school day, oh and Jesus won’t return either if you make a Facebook group.’ An accurate reflection of the risible impact that Facebook groups can have.
4. Can This Sausage Roll Get More Fans Than Cheryl Cole? A group designed to discover if a cheap savoury pastry can garner more fans than one of Britain’s best-known popstars. Cheryl is one fifth of incredibly successful girl group Girls Aloud and an ever-weeping X-Factorjudge; she’s also married to England, Chelsea footballer and alleged cheating rat, Ashley Cole. The group was set up on 30 January and within a week had 790,000 members; Cole herself has 1,506,045 members on her Facebook fan page. Again, not so much a hate campaign as a collective grumble at the fame accorded to some people, but with a nice dash of the surreal.
3. Candle in My Bumhole for Tibet An event set up through Facebook for 8 August 2008, the day of the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Beijing. The event had 937 putative attendees; whether they all did what they said they were going to do is another matter. The point is that, despite the apparent beliefs of those setting up Facebook groups on a wide range of liberal campaign issues, nothing is going to change anywhere - especially not in Tibet - just by lighting a candle, whether you stick it in your window or in your anus.
2. Susan Boyle Looks Like the Person You’d Find Standing in Tesco Shouting at Cheese. A funny and, some would say, accurate description of the Scottish singer Susan Boyle who shot to fame after performing on another Simon Cowell show, Britain’s Got Talent. The group has over 100,000 members and is another example of FB users’ wit. Facebook groups work best as off-the-wall comments on the shallow world of the media rather than as attempts at making history.
1. Rage Against the Christmas Number One. Possibly the nearest thing to a Facebook group ‘changing the world’, this succeeded in propelling the anti-consumerist band to the top of the UK music charts at Christmas by selling very slightly more copies than the talent-show winner who was expected to take top spot with ease. The X-Factor had dominated the Christmas number one for the previous four years. Whatever one thinks about this group, it did at least achieve what it set out to do, against all expectations. On the other hand, normal service was resumed the following week when the X-Factor single hit the top spot. The success of this FB group was a one-hit wonder.
Despite the much-discussed success of the ‘Rage’ campaign, Facebook is neither a social nor a political weapon. It is a surreal world where people go to unwind and the majority of the groups are humorous, cynical and sarcastic. At most, Facebook groups can mock celebrities like Cheryl Cole or provide a means of irritating the likes of Simon Cowell. Endowing social networking services with the power to change the world, however, only shows how desperate politicians and commentators are to connect with the rest of us.
Michael P Fitzpatrick is an intern at spiked.