Riot fears spark Facebook deletion for Fringe group


By Kirsty Topping


Facebook removed the group as they claimed it breached their rules

A THEATRE group has had their Facebook page shut down over fears they were inciting a London-style riot at the Fringe.

The Wardrobe Ensemble had set up the page to promote their show, called Riot, at Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival.

But “over zealous” Facebook bosses pulled the “Riot in Edinburgh” group following violence in England.

The nine-strong group had set up the page in mid-July to promote their performance at the Zoo Roxy.

But they were left bemused when Facebook told them they had violates its terms of service as “events that are hateful, threatening or obscene are not allowed”.

Facebook has been clamping down of groups which try to replicate the chaos seen in several English cities last week.

The play is based on a riot which took place in a London Ikea store in 2005 and the show’s producers believe the English violence has actually helped ticket sales for the comedy.

Producer Helena Middleton said: “We were doing a bit of work before coming to Edinburgh and we set up a Facebook page on July 22. It had a blurb about the show and venue details and other information.

“It was last Wednesday when the person who created the page came and told us that Facebook had taken it down.

“Our first reaction was to find it quite funny that Facebook had seen the name and removed the page without bothering to read it. They had quite obviously taken it down in quite a haphazard fashion simply because it included the word ‘riot’.”

She added that the team hoped the deletion of the page had not affected audience numbers.

She said: “We had a few hundred people use the page but promoting a show in Edinburgh is mostly about handing out flyers so we are hoping it didn’t make too much difference.”

The show began work in January and the team had no idea that the topic of riots would hit the headlines just as they took to the stage.

Helena said: “We’ve been working on this since Januaryso we had no idea it was going to be topical. It’s worked for and against us. Some people said they were interested because of the riots, while others said they were sick of hearing about them.”

A Facebook spokeswoman said the page had been mistakenly removed as the company searched for material encouraging people to riot following the unrest of recent weeks.

She said: “Under our statement of rights and responsibilities for users, one of the rules is not being allowed to incite threats of violence.”

The show tells the story of a riot at a new Ikea store in Edmonton, north London. On February 10, 2005 more than 6000 customers arrived for a midnight opening because of the promise of massive discounts.

Many customers were crushed, five people were hospitalized and one man was stabbed in the resulting chaos.

Several Scottish teenagers have already been arrested for inciting people to riot.