UPDATE: All "kill police" Facebook pages mentioned in our previous report were removed Wednesday, according to a Facebook representative. Company spokesman Brandon Lepow contacted NewsWest 9 to confirm "Kill Police Brutally-I mean, Brutality" and "Kill the police" were deleted following the publication of our story.
"We reviewed the pages and groups, and found they violated our Community Standards," Lepow said.
The Facebook users listed as the administrators of the deactivated "kill police" pages could not be reached for comment.
By: Julia Deng
Pages and groups containing the search term "kill police" have sparked concern among Facebook users nationwide.
Nicole Saunders, a woman in upstate New York, created a Facebook event Tuesday morning called "Online Protest for Facebook to remove Kill the Police pages."
More than 38,000 Facebook users joined within 12 hours.
"There's a lot of raw emotion that's out there and it just takes a little spark [to create] this massive wildfire," Saunders told NewsWest 9. "People just start reacting instead of thinking. I think a lot of people could get hurt if we let this mob mentality escalate."
She, and other members of the online protest, reported at least a dozen pages to Facebook administrators for "harassment" and material "containing credible threat of violence."
Facebook declined to remove at least two, including the "Kill Police Brutally-I mean, Brutality" community page and "Kill the police," a page categorized as a "cause."
A message from Facebook Support to a member of the protest read, "Thank you for taking the time to report something that you feel may violate our Community Standards. Reports like yours are an important part of making Facebook a safe and welcoming environment. We reviewed the group you reported for containing credible threat of violence and found it doesn't violate our Community Standards."
Administrators of "Kill Police Brutally-I mean, Brutality" and "Kill the police" could not be reached for comment.
Saunders said it "blew her mind" when the pages in question were not deleted.
"A lot of [less offensive] posts that aren't as dangerous do get deleted, and when I heard that these existed... I was heartbroken. They instill panic. Our officers are out there to protect us. They put their lives on the line every single day."
Facebook administrators recommended reporting potentially offensive content - such as individual posts, photos or comments - rather than an entire page or group.
"That way, your report will be more accurately reviewed," read their support notification.
The Odessa Police Department does not share Saunders' fear that social media unrest on "Kill the Police" Facebook pages could lead to violence.
"I was personally unaware of these Facebook pages, and so were the other command level officers and city officials with whom I spoke," OPD Captain Rick Pippins told NewsWest 9. "I'm sure the same could be said for the majority of people in Odessa and the Permian Basin who overwhelmingly support their police and sheriff's departments. There is no reason to believe any local person or group would be provoked to violence or unrest simply because of social media influence."
Captain Pippins cited the First Amendment right to free speech as something "OPD officers are proud to defend, even when that speech may be divisive, hateful and inflammatory."
He said, "As individuals we may not like what is being written, but as officers we know that a society whose speech is defended by the government only when the government agrees with it, is not free."