The 'Kill Obama?' Facebook poll is no joke for the Secret Service
The Secret Service is investigating after someone posted a poll using an application created by Farmer asking, "Should Obama be killed?" The possible answers were "no," "maybe," yes," and "yes if he cuts my health care." Facebook quickly yanked the poll Monday -- and the Secret Service may be quickly yanking some moron out of bed early this morning.
Early Tuesday, Farmer posted the following to his Twittter account. "Life TODO: [X] Have a phone conversation with an agent from the US Secret Service." To be clear, Farmer is not the person who created the poll, but rather the creator of the third-party application used to create the poll.
"The conversation with the SS was fine," Farmer tweeted. "If the goal was to resolve the issue + inform the SS, the way it went down was suboptimal." Farmer did not immediately return a request for comment.
"We worked with Facebook to have the poll taken down, and we're investigating further," Secret Service spokesman Edwin Donovan told DailyFinance. "We can't discount anything. We have to take this seriously."
Indeed. And most likely, the first thing they did was ask Facebook and the third-party application developer to turn over the IP address of the user who posted the offensive poll. With that information in hand, agents would be able to locate the computer on which the poll was created and perhaps even the person who created it.
Facebook said the poll had been uploaded using a third-party application, which has now been disabled. Some 730 people responded before users of the popular social networking site reported the poll to the company, which had already removed it by the time the Secret Service called Monday afternoon, Facebook spokesman Barry Schnitt said.
"Obviously, we have information on the developer and which users have added an application, but we have less information on when people are using applications and what they are doing on them," Schnitt told DailyFinance. "For all intents and purposes users are on other websites when using many applications. However, it should be trivial for the developer to provide information on their users."
Schnitt added: "Thus, the fastest and easiest way for the Secret Service to get information for their investigation is from the developer, and we've done what we can to facilitate that."
The Secret Service investigates any threat made against the President's life -- a federal crime -- but Obama's status as the first African-American President brings an added dimension of concern for security officials already tasked with protecting the most famous and powerful man in the world.
White supremacists and neo-Nazis have committed violence against African-Americans around the country and fomented hate online for years. But in recent weeks, anti-Obama speech and behavior hinting at or advocating violence has surfaced at so-called town hall meetings and demonstrations against Obama's health-care plan and other policies. The same has happened at forums frequented by fringe groups, including "birthers," who dispute Obama's U.S. citizenship.
In August, the Secret Service investigated a man who displayed a sign reading "Death to Obama" and "Death to Michelle and her two stupid kids" outside a town hall meeting in Maryland. And in New Hampshire, a man brought a holstered gun and stood across the street from a Presidential town hall with his weapon on full display, according to ABC News. And just last month, a North Carolina man pleaded guilty to threatening the President after he called 911 twice from his trailer just south of the Virginia border, saying he was going to assassinate the president, the AP reported.
Here's a question the Facebook pollster may not have considered: How long will it take the Secret Service to track you down?