The U.S. Secret Service is trying to identify the people who launched an online poll at Facebook asking whether US President Barack Obama should be assassinated.
Facebook on Monday shut down the user-generated poll, which was titled "Should Obama be killed?" and offered answer choices of yes, no, maybe, and "If he cuts my health care."
"Once we found out about it, we worked with Facebook to have it removed," Secret Service spokesman Malcolm Wiley told AFP.
"We are certainly investigating; just like we would with any threat case."
More than 750 Facebook users had reportedly cast votes by the time the poll was yanked from the wildly popular online social networking community.
"This is sick and sad," a Facebook user with the screen name Cocoa Fly said in a posting as the poll fueled passionate online exchanges at the website.
"All of this anti-Obama rage is pure racism."
The poll was created over the weekend using a third-party application that lets users conduct their own surveys, according to Facebook spokesman Barry Schnitt.
"People were usually doing trivial polls like asking friends where they should go for dinner or what they thought of a certain movie," Schnitt said of the application.
"Then there was the offensive one created by an individual user."
Facebook had to shut down the program to get rid of the Obama poll since surveys using the software were controlled by the outside developer.
The application will remain disabled until the developer assures Facebook that the controversial survey has been removed and there are policies and procedures for handling such concerns in the future, according to Schnitt.
"Of course we are offended by the content of the poll but objectionable ideas are in the world and, unfortunately, manifest on Facebook," Schnitt told AFP.
"We felt we dealt with it in a responsible way by removing it as quick as we were notified."
Schnitt declined to discuss the Secret Service investigation.