Cameron's battle with Facebook over Moat page ends, but war continues

The Prime Minister's attempts to woo the social networking generation have taken a turn for the worse

It had seemed to go so well. Downing Street was certainly delighted after David Cameron chatted by videolink to Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of the social networking site Facebook.

While some of Facebook's users might have found last week's encounter awkward and contrived, the Prime Minister's advisers believed it had been a powerful way of connecting him to modern youth.

But the link-up with the pioneering site turned sour this week after the Prime Minister joined protests over the controversial Facebook page set up in tribute to the killer Raoul Moat.

All the forced chumminess with Mr Zuckerberg was forgotten after Mr Cameron instructed officials to complain to Facebook about comments on the "RIP Raoul Moat you Legend" webpage, which had attracted more than 30,000 supporters and contained hundreds of vitriolic attacks on the police.

Facebook refused to back down in the face of Downing Street's intervention, although both sides sought to play down the row's significance.

There will have been private relief yesterday in No 10 – although it refused to comment publicly – when the page was suddenly taken down by its creator, Siobhan O'Dowd. She did make it clear, however, that it could soon be relaunched. She denied she had received death threats. Asked why she removed the page, Ms O'Dowd replied: "I don't know really. A few of us came to a decision, but it's going to be up again.

"We don't condone what he did, as what he did was wrong. I feel sorry for the families, but he was still a human being at the end of the day. He had problems and he didn't get any help."

Facebook made it clear that it had not taken down the heavily-criticised site and said it stood by its decision to leave the page online.

It explained that it only removed entries that breached strict guidelines on racism, bullying and inciting hatred against individuals, and would not delete comments simply because many people found them distasteful.

Last night another Facebook webpage, "RIP Raoul Moat!", had attracted more than 10,000 supporters, many of whom had posted abusive comments about the Prime Minister.

One read: "Raoul Moat was a good, decent, hard-working man who loved his family. He was the good guy. The police drove him mad and eventually made him commit these heinous crimes. RIP mate."

Moat, 37, who killed the partner of an ex-girlfriend, wounded her and blinded a police officer in one eye, shot himself last week in Rothbury, Northumberland, after a massive manhunt.

Northumberland Police arrested two men yesterday on suspicion of helping him. The men, aged 28 and 36, were arrested in Newcastle and released on police bail. Fifteen people have been arrested during the investigation.

Mr Cameron told MPs this week that he could not understand the sympathy being expressed online for Moat, whom he denounced as a "callous murderer". A senior official from the Prime Minister's office relayed the comments to Facebook shortly afterwards.

But in an apparent attempt yesterday to nip any row with Facebook in the bud, Downing Street insisted the call was not aimed at getting the site taken down. The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "We were not trying to instruct them to do anything. The purpose was to draw their attention to the Prime Minister's comments."

He added: "I don't think we're in favour of censorship."

Last week's Cameron-Zuckerberg conference was set up after the company agreed to provide a space to suggest savings in public spending. The page, which only has 44 supporters, provides links to the Treasury's "spending challenge" website for the public's ideas in cutting the national deficit.

The suggestions submitted range from the arcane to the bizarre. Calls to cut foreign aid, clamp down on immigration, pull out of the European Union and tackle Government red tape have received strong support.

Other more specific ideas include turning the 2012 London Olympic village into accommodation for MPs, ending winter fuel payments to expatriates who have retired to warmer climes and using lower-energy lightbulbs in public offices.

It started with a video chat...

David Cameron's up-and-down week with Facebook began last Friday when he joined founder Mark Zuckerberg for a video conference, above. This led to a link being created on Facebook to the Treasury website, where visitors were encouraged to suggest ways of reducing public spending. As you can see, some ideas were more sensible than others...

* Ban alcohol at the Houses of Parliament – "Closing all bars at Westminster would save the [taxpayers'] subsidy and probably ensure much better government."

* Abandon paper driving licences – "Doing without the paper part would surely save money on administration costs, especially in this technological age, when so much of our personal data is held on computer databases."

* Scrap council magazines – "Why are councils spending money on writing, publishing and distributing magazines publicising the 'brilliant' job they do?"

* Reduce checks on adults working with youngsters – "Although the safety of children must be paramount, the current CRB checks are a waste of money."

* Scale back foreign fact-finding trips by MPs – "With the installation of video conferencing in most UK missions overseas, in many cases such visits are not necessary and questions can be posed to missions and tours of facilities conducted via video link."

* Cancel the Luton/Dunstable busway – "Total waste of money. I have not yet met a local who has a good word for it."

* "Send them back" – "Our own people want work and with so many of our own born here people loosing [sic] work I see a revolution coming in time in the uk."

* Sell sex toys.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Fans line up at the AVNs, straining to capture a photo of their favourite star
life Tim Walker asks how much longer it can flesh out an existence
Life and Style
Every minute of every day, Twitter is awash with anger as we seek to let these organisations know precisely what we think of them
techWhen it comes to vitriol, no one on attracts our ire more than big businesses offering bad service
News
Professor David Nutt wants to change the way gravely ill patients are treated in Britain
people Why does a former Government tsar believe that mind-altering drugs have a place on prescription?
News
Norway’s ‘The Nordland Line – Minute by Minute, Season by Season’ continues the trend of slow TV
television
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
art
Sport
Jonny Evans has pleaded not guilty to an FA charge for spitting at Papiss Cisse
football
Life and Style
Kate Moss will make a cameo appearance in David Walliams' The Boy in the Dress
fashion
News
The image released by the Salvation Army, using 'The Dress'
news
Sport
Liverpool defender Kolo Toure
football Defender could make history in the FA Cup, but African Cup of Nations win means he's already content
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Consultant - London - £65,000 OTE.

£65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Engineer - central London ...

Recruitment Genius: Physiotherapist / Sports Therapist

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Advisor

£8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable