Play’s cast kicks off as Facebook bans page

The cast of Riot, which is based on real-life trouble at Ikea
The cast of Riot, which is based on real-life trouble at Ikea
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A THEATRE company behind an Edinburgh Fringe play called Riot had its Facebook page advertising the show removed amid fears it was inciting violence.

The Wardrobe Ensemble is staging the play at the Zoo Roxy and set up the Facebook page in mid-July to drum up interest in the production.

But the nine-strong group was left bemused after Facebook decided the page entitled “Riot in Edinburgh” had violated its terms of use as “events that are hateful, threatening or obscene are not allowed”.

A Facebook source today admitted it had been “over-zealous” in clamping down on pages suspected of inciting riots reminiscent of those seen in London and other English cities earlier this month.

The play itself is a comic take on a riot which erupted at an Ikea store in 2005, and the team behind the show believe the civil unrest down south has helped boost ticket sales.

Cast member and producer Helena Middleton said: “We were doing a bit of work before coming to Edinburgh and we set up the Facebook page on July 22. It had a blurb about the show and venue details and other information.

“It was last Wednesday when the person who created the page came and told us that Facebook had taken it down. Our first reaction was to find it quite funny that Facebook had seen the name and removed the page without even bothering to read it. They had obviously taken it down in quite a haphazard fashion simply because it included the word ‘riot’.

“We had a few hundred people use the page but promoting a show in Edinburgh is mostly about handing out flyers so we’re hoping it didn’t make too much difference. We haven’t contacted Facebook because we just found it amusing.

“We’ve been working on this since January so we had no idea it was going to be topical. It’s worked for and against us. Some people said they were interested because of the riots while others said they were sick of hearing about them.”

After removing the page, Facebook left a message for the company which read: “The event ‘Riot in Edinburgh’ has been removed because it violated our terms of use. ”.

A Facebook spokeswoman said the page had been taken down in error during searches for material which encouraged rioting following the unrest of recent weeks. She said: “Under our statement of rights and responsibilities for users, one of the rules is not being allowed to incite threats of violence.”

Two Scottish teenagers have already been arrested after messages were posted on Facebook allegedly inciting others to commit acts of disorder following the riots.

The one-hour show retells the riot of February 10, 2005, when more than 6000 customers overwhelmed the midnight opening of a new Ikea store in Edmonton, north London that promised massive discounts. Customers were crushed, five shoppers were hospitalised and one man was stabbed.

Riot is on daily at 1.15pm until August 29.

amcewen@edinburghnews.com

Festival 2011 – Pull-out