After young man’s death during the giant Facebook « apero » (outside drinking party) in Nantes, France, there has been debate whether the organization of these giant gatherings in Facebook should be prohibited. Prearranged on social networking sites, the alcohol filled events are becoming increasingly popular. Dangerously so, according to the authorities.
Therefore, the giant “apero” in Paris, due on May 23 with a Facebook group having 15,000 people subscribed to the event, was deleted from the website after police warned the organizer of the consequences of putting together event this size. The maximum penalty for organizing illegal events in France is six months in prison and a fine of 7500 €, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
However, many times the organizer is anonymous and without apparent organizer, the authorities are unable to hold responsible anyone for the accidents or to demand people to pay for cleaning up the mess.
Can Facebook or the group administrators be hold accountable for these events? Everyone’s responsible for their own actions and in the end Facebook is only a giant platform and not liable of the content the users write, even if it was event organization, or illegal or racist content. No one accuses the Post when someone sends a anonymous letter with anthrax, right? However there has been some debate on whether Facebook should notify the police of illegal, suspicious, racist or other type of content published. It should be possible, considering the amount of information provided for the advertisers. But are they willing to cooperate? Not so sure.
What comes to the group administrator; he cannot know in advance how many people will show up to the event nor know what they will do. Cancelling the event does not help neither, since even if the original organizer of the Parisian party has cooperated with the authorities, a new group entitled “All for the giant aperitif in Paris” administered by 30 people popped up in Facebook few days later with more than 3800 people already signed up.
Will there be a mutual effort between Facebook and the authorities to reduce these events and control the published content or will the platform continue as it is? It is a delicate question, considering its internationality: you have to consider the freedom of speech, big differences between the local laws, and the protection of personal information. And of course: the users do not want to be “spied”.