Ranger Rick, the persona of the National Wildlife Federation, has been banished from Facebook. NWF is asking people to help bring him back by joining the "Set Ranger Rick Free" Facebook group and by sending emails to email@example.com to return Ranger Rick's profile to Facebook.
Ranger Rick's expulsion has sparked much debate on how Facebook handles profiles that are welcomed by the public, useful and informative but are not considered "real" or "human". While Facebook is known for their lack of lenience when it comes to any kind of mascot or organization that braves to have a profile, it seems that by closing their doors they are severely limiting their options. Especially for Non-profits where a group doesn't have the same beneficial news-feed options that a profile has. We aren't talking about commercial use or spamming. With Ranger Rick, we are talking about allowing positive forces to exist within Facebook's structure without causing their community any harm.
It seems that by the number of fake profiles Facebook can't possibly control (there are 6 other Ranger Ricks alone, plus countless celebrities), it would behoove them to come up with a solution that doesn't leave Non-profits or other informative mascots forced to scramble and cope with their lame group option. They have made space for the political agenda and it seems hypocritical for them to exclude organizations with a positive message.
It also seems silly that they would feel the need to take action when no one had complained about Ranger Rick or reported him. Ranger Rick was simply existing on Facebook and they happened to notice him, which made him a target. That's not very consistent with their networking message, or their web 2.0 platform where we have partial control. If they were truly interested in keeping the community safe they would only go after the profiles that were truly abusing the system.
As the voice behind Ranger Rick, I found that most people responded to him positively and got a good laugh at seeing their childhood nature friend join the ranks of Facebook. That's really what this is about. Is it worth taking Ranger Rick, a harmless cartoon with an educational message, off Facebook? I understand if we are talking corporations, but the thought of locking up Ranger Rick or deleting his profile based on the fact that he isn't "real" seems comical and also rather insulting. Don't you think the public can make up their own mind about who they friend on Facebook? And don't you think that deleting a funny but useful figure seems a tad too controlling? I'd like hear what everyone thinks.
It's about time Facebook had a Ranger.