People Are Making "Jump For Harambe" Facebook Events And It's Probably Crossing A Line
Facebook events that invite people to "jump" from noted suicide spots for the gorilla have registered thousands of attendees.
Harambe, a gorilla that was shot and killed in May at Cincinnati Zoo to save a child who had fallen into his enclosure, has become a cult online figure.
After its death, the gorilla became a cult meme frequently used in 4Chan forums and certain circles of social media. The "RIP Harambe (the gorilla who died) meme was brutal and subtle.
Recently, the meme has taken full flight and is now passed around in high schools and on Tween Twitter.
However, the "jumping for Harambe" meme is its most sinister development.
Multiple Facebook events have been created, urging people to jump off famous Australian landmarks "for Harambe".
The events are jokes, but many of them have changed their original names from titles like "Mass Suicide Bridge Jump for Harambe".
Event administrators have realised the meme may have been taken too far and have posted disclaimers reiterating that "this is just a meme" and linking out to mental health support sites.
On the "Jump off the Harbour Bridge for Harambe" event – which is scheduled for November 28 and has almost 20,000 people "attending" – the host writes:
"This event was created as a Joke or 'meme' and is not to be taken literally. Jumping off the bridge would likely cause injury or even death. The creator of this event is not responsible for any of your own actions. EVENT NOT TO BE TAKEN LITERALLY!! By joining this event you are agreeing to not hold the creator responsible for any of your future actions. To sum it up - don't actually jump it's just a joke."
"I set it up about five days ago, originally as an inside joke between a few friends," the host told BuzzFeed News. "I didn't realise it would spread as quick as it did. I haven't had any complaints from anyone as most people understand that it's a joke."
Another event, linked to jumping off Melbourne's Westgate bridge for Harambe, has caused more controversy.
The Westgate bridge has permanent suicide-prevention barriers set up after it became a noted location for suicide attempts. In 2009, a four-year-old girl was thrown off the bridge by her father and later died in hospital.
This event has 18,000 "attending". The discussion thread on the event is mostly full of people contributing to the meme, however when some point out that a "famous suicide spot" isn't the best place for a joke they are shut down by other users.
The Cincinnati Zoo itself has been hounded by online trolls who respond to every post on social media with tweets and comments denouncing the death of Harambe and calling for some sort of apology from the zoo. Yesterday, the zoo released a statement addressing the memes.
"We are not amused by the memes, petitions, and signs about Harambe," it said. Our zoo family is still healing, and the constant mention of Harambe makes moving forward more difficult for us."
Today, the zoo shut down its Twitter account.
Facebook told BuzzFeed News that while the events may appear "disagreeable", that doesn't necessarily mean they violate community standards.
"Facebook’s Community Standards outline what’s allowed on Facebook, and what type of content may be reported to us and removed. What may appear as disagreeable may not necessarily violate our Community Standards," said a Facebook spokesperson.
Victoria Police told BuzzFeed News it was aware of the planned event and will continue to monitor the Westgate bridge.