'Poke OU' Facebook page removed

Tuesday, November 27, 2007 | 7:51 p.m. CST; updated 11:13 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

COLUMBIA — A Facebook page calling for MU football fans to send a virtual poke to University of Oklahoma players disappeared this afternoon.

MU Junior Austin Huff started the “event,” called “Poke OU!,” on the popular social networking site Facebook. “Poke OU!” asked people to send a virtual poke to Oklahoma football players, who have a Facebook page, before the game against them on Dec. 1 in San Antonio. Over 10,000 people had been invited to join “Poke OU!” as of Tuesday.

A poke on Facebook is an option users have to click on when viewing a person’s profile. The user who is poked receives a message saying that they have been poked by that person when they log onto Facebook. They then have the option to poke back or hide it.

“I started a poke group against Nebraska when we were playing their Quarterback Sam Keller,” Huff said. “We’ve done it for every game that we could find a quarterback or key player on Facebook.”

Huff said he received a message from The Facebook Team on Tuesday afternoon. The message is as follows:

“The event ‘Poke OU!’ has been removed because it violated our Terms of Use. Among other things, events that are hateful, threatening, or obscene are not allowed. We also take down events that attack an individual or group, or advertise a product or service. Continued misuse of Facebook’s features could result in your account being disabled.”

“I was a little surprised,” Huff said. “I just wrote them an e-mail saying I don’t understand why we got picked on and that we have been doing this since October.”

Huff said he got the idea from a similar event created by University of Kentucky fans to poke basketball players on an opposing team.

“In no way did I feel that it was hateful, obscene or threatening in any way,” Huff said. “I don’t understand why Facebook has the poke feature if it means any of those things.”

Although the event only asked fans to send a poke, some took the poking a step further and also sent messages to the players letting them know their team is going to lose.

“A lot of people don’t think it fazes them and for some players it doesn’t, but for some players just seeing the number of pokes and messages they get each week, it really starts getting into their heads,” Huff said. “If you hear something enough times eventually you start believing it.”

The Facebook event description offered links to several player profiles, from OU Defensive End Auston English to Quarterback Sam Bradford. “I actually found one of the players’ Oklahoma e-mail,” said MU Freshman Michael Martinez. “I’ve been making pictures and put their face on these ridiculous pictures and I send it to them.”

There is no love lost between fans and players, and insults are flung back and forth via various Facebook groups, events and personal messages. The addition of applications to Facebook in May offered a new venue for fans to support their teams. Tiger fans have several options to show their support on their personal profile.

“Facebook has just skyrocketed with the amount and type of people who use it,” Martinez said. “Even underclassmen back home are able to look at pictures of us and stuff. It’s a sense of belonging even though they don’t go to MU, they’re MU fans. They’re able to talk to both groups and just be a part of the funny things we get to do at Mizzou.”

Two popular applications are Missouri Football Fans, which boasted 24,889 fans on Tuesday and gives options for users to upload photos and videos, participate in Tiger trivia and talk on a discussion board, and The Zou, which claimed 32,299 fans as of Tuesday and gives users the options of updating a cheer, discussing and brawling with friends who have a similar KU application called Rock Chalk Jayhawk.

“Like the bigger the games are the more times I get on, like I’ve gotten on today in the middle of my classes.” Martinez said. “I’ve done it a bunch of times. I always poke them.”

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