04 March 2011

Dippy the penguin back on Facebook

UK - Dippy the penguin is back on Facebook after a two-week absence, following an outcry from his loyal friends.

The 17-year-old Humboldt penguin from the Isle of Wight's Seaview Wildlife Encounter became the first penguin to have a Facebook account when his keepers launched his profile page back in November 2009. Since then, nearly 3,000 Facebook users (not all human!) from around the world had added Dippy as a friend.

Dippy's profile page was "a really fun platform for many different types of communications with a diverse audience" and "a way to enjoy some light-hearted banter as well as sharing information on wildlife conservation in a fun, informative and engaging way".

Then, without warning or explanation, Dippy's account was closed on 7 February, leaving his keepers confused and upset. As they said on the Seaview Wildlife Encounter blog:

"There are so many crooked, underhand people in the world today; we all know of the daily reports of criminals and political activists in our midst who falsely represent themselves through various means including social media platforms like Facebook. Dippy the Penguin has been open about his innocent identity from the start - so why now? Why him? Why silence Dippy?"

Once his Facebook friends found out, Dippy and his keepers were "overwhelmed" with emails and enquiries of support. One, Liam Thistlewood, set up a "Get Dippy Back on Facebook" campaign. Another, Fiona Strange, wrote:

"Peter and I were shocked to hear about Dippy's Facebook page. All our friends in Scotland, England and Australia love having Dippy as a friend ... It's upsetting that your site can be closed down without giving you any reason. ...  I have learned more in the last year from Dippy about penguins, than I have from anywhere else in my life ... let's hope it won't be too long before we can all be reunited with our much loved and respected Dippy."

Thankfully, a solution was found. Dippy's account was closed because he isn't a "real person". Now, instead of a personal profile page, he has a Dippy Seaview fan page and "is looking forward to an exciting new chapter of communication ... engaging on topics ranging from fun, frivolous flutters to conservational messages and educational insights".

His keepers are concerned that they lost contact with many of Dippy's old friends when his original account was closed. Hopefully old friends will become new fans - and also those who previously weren't Dippy's friends will get on board. I have!

Dippy's new fan page, 18 February 2011, Seaview Wildlife Encounter blog
Dippy returns to Facebook, 15 February 2011, Seaview Wildlife Encounter blog
Letters of the week - support for Dippy the penguin, 13 February 2011, Seaview Wildlife Encounter blog
Facebook gives penguin the bird by Jason Kay, 10 February 2011, The Isle of Wight Gazette
Dippy the penguin - crestfallen after closure of Facebook account, 8 February 2011, Seaview Wildlife Encounter blog

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