Restore university community Facebook group 'QUT StalkerSpace 2.0'

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QUT StalkerSpace 2.0, the flagship unofficial community group for students at the Queensland University of Technology, was permanently deleted from Facebook on 15th February. We ask for Facebook to reconsider the merits of this deletion, as well as clarification on how the group breached Community Standards.

UPDATE: We won the petition! StalkerSpace is back!

Started in 2012, and home to 50,000 members, QUT StalkerSpace 2.0 was an active community used extensively by students, staff & alumni. The group was flagged to admins as having breached Community Standards, with no specific mention to what had been breached. As a safety measure, the administrators deleted the previous 48 hours of posts before submitting a review in the assumption that posts during this time triggered the breach flag. Regardless, the group was permanently deleted, with no option to appeal available. Many offshoot groups that got created in place of QUT StalkerSpace 2.0 were also flagged as being against Community Standards and deleted soon after.

My name is Vinnie Batten, and I’m the President of the QUT Guild, the student union of the Queensland University of Technology. We exist to represent and advocate for the needs, wants & concerns of all 50,000 students. Prior to this, I was an administrator on QUT StalkerSpace 2.0 for several years, part of a team that held the duties & responsibilities of moderating a large group extremely seriously. It is my belief, alongside the broader student community, that the permanent removal of the group was unjust, and negatively impacts student life at our university. Given Facebook’s origin story within university settings, there should be clear recognition of how these communities are perceived as contributing meaningfully towards a thriving university campus culture. This is further evidenced by Mark Zuckerberg’s current personal membership of the Facebook group ‘Harvard Memes for Elitist 1% Tweens’.

Students relied on the group to ask questions about university, post memes specific to students at QUT, and use it a way to make friends. Clubs & Societies relied on the group to promote club events and recruit new members to encourage a diverse campus. Staff used the group to get a gauge on how students felt about a range of current issues relating to the university. Security used the group as a way to monitor any potential concerns on campus and plan to assist proactively. It contains years of QUT history. It was an important part of what it meant to be a QUT student.

  • In an article by the Courier Mail, entitled ‘Facebook Deletes Toxic QUT Page’ , it was alleged that the reasoning for the group being taken down was because of bullying encountered by QUT student Dylan Griffiths, who was the subject of a viral meme after uploading a photo to the group posing in a QUT shirt in -4°C weather while overseas. An article published by the QUT Guild student run magazine ‘Glass’ covers more on the topic: Link
  • Despite allegations of bullying, Dylan Griffiths was approached for interview, where he claimed that the Courier Mail misrepresented his beliefs, and that he had been misquoted by the journalist. Dylan believes that the viral meme was a positive experience, and that he felt as if a message to one of the group admins would be all that was required to have an offensive post taken down. Jack Chilton, admin of the group, stated that he was proactively in contact with Dylan, and invited him to communicate if requested any content to be taken down. Details of the correspondence with Dylan can be found here: Link
  • Many students shared the belief that it was likely that QUT administration had something to do with requesting its removal, however, through meeting with the Registrar of the university, it was confirmed that the university played no part in orchestrating its removal by providing the QUT Guild with the following letter: Link

Prior, concurrent & post my duties of an administrator of the group, it has always been well regarded as having prompt responsible moderating, where students can report posts of concern to the mod team, or individually private message, to ensure that their concerns are heard and addressed. The moderator team was always kept large enough, with active Facebook users, to enable posts deemed offensive, targeted & interpreted as against Community Standards to be taken down promptly, with the benefit of the doubt always going towards the person reporting the post. The university had an email through which they could contact the administrators to address concerns, and these were also handled promptly.

It is because of this commitment & integrity shown towards moderation that the administration team have expressed such shock and disappointment that the group was permanently deleted. The admin team have expressed their commitment to adhering to any specific Community Standard guidelines provided by Facebook, alongside guidance on how to keep the group to the highest possible standards.

On behalf of the broader QUT community, and as President of the QUT Guild, I submit this petition as a demand for Facebook to accept a reconsideration of the merits of deleting the group QUT StalkerSpace 2.0, factoring in the details provided above.