Will Facebook threats destroy psychic octopus?

Paul, the octopus who has predicted every single World Cup game involving Germany correctly, predicted the team would lose to Spain. Now he's getting death threats.

Facebook has always struggled with hate groups.

It defines the hate emotion so subjectively that one hardly knows what it is permissible to hate--semolina, perhaps--and what is entirely verboten. (Not Holocaust denial, it seems .)

So I will be very curious how the peak players at Facebook will react to the news that certain Facebook members and groups are demanding the death of a very sensitive creature, Paul the psychic octopus.

Should you have recently been buried by youths on a secluded beach, you might not know that Paul is an octopus who lives in a tank in Oberhausen, Germany, and correctly predicts the results of World Cup games involving Germany.

Paul has truly become the talk of all visual media, clogging just about every tube imaginable.

Perhaps because he was born in England, he has remained objective about Germany's chances in each of its games. Unfortunately, when it came to last Wednesday's semifinal, he chose Spain over his home nation. He was right. But this, naturally, has led to an outpouring of socially-networked angst and bile, demanding his instant and painful demise.

Just one symbol of this feeling is a German Facebook group called "Die Krake Must Weg", which seems to be something of an opposite feeling to the English "The Kraken Wakes".

Yes, some outrageously heinous Germans want him kaput. Indeed, even FIFA.com, a site as pure as the intentions of all its referees, reported its own concern about Paul's fate.

It quoted German newspaper Der Western as saying there are "a host of comments on Facebook, Twitter...suggesting Paul should be fried, barbecued, or turned into a seafood salad or paella." Some, FIFA.com noted, have gone further in their abject cruelty. They want to throw him into a shark tank.

But it isn't just the Germans. Argentina, which was destroyed by Germany, has also turned to Facebook demanding the pulpo should be pulped.

Argentine chef Nicolas Bedorrou offered this recipe: "We will chase him and put him on some paper. We will then beat him (but correctly!) in order to keep the meat tender and then put it in boiling water."

How can Facebook allow such clear incitement to crime? How can there not have been an immediate takedown and a full, clear and personal apology from Mark Zuckerberg? Do these people truly have no feelings?

I am pleased to say that some decent Facebookers have fought back.

A group called "Pulpo Paul" has, at this current time of fearing for his life, more than 100,000 members. However, they do not seem to include many Germans. This is a Spanish site that seems to be becoming more popular, as Paul has predicted that Spain will win Sunday's final.

Indeed, Spain's Prime Minister, Jose Luis Zapatero, is worried about Paul. He was quoted in the Telegraph as saying: "I am concerned for the octopus...I am thinking of sending him a protective team."

His handler, though, is confident that any Web-based nastiness will not ultimately afflict Paul's well-being. He told the Telegraph: "There are always people who want to eat our octopus, but he is not shy and we are here to protect him as well. He will survive."

In an attempt to gain a stay of execution, Paul has predicted that Germany will win the entirely unimportant third place game against Uruguay on Saturday.

However, all those who are offering socially-networked death threats to this charming and highly intuitive octopus might bear in mind that he's only expected to live until the ripe old age of 3. And he's already 2.

 

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