Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Beware of Facebook (Multiple Updates)

Now I have nothing against Delegate Saqib Ali (D-39). He has a pro-labor, pro-environment voting record. He was supported by numerous progressive organizations in his incumbent-toppling run in 2006. And I chuckled when he took on MCDCC over its secretive vacancy appointment process.

But, you see, I just joined Facebook. And Delegate Ali’s page gave me a welcome that I will never forget!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Facebook, it is probably the premier social networking site on the Internet. Everyone who joins maintains their own page. Anyone can establish links to “Friends.” Friends share comments, news and photos, and can write on each other’s pages in forums called “Walls.” Facebook participants can choose to make the contents of their Wall visible only to their Friends, Friends of Friends or broader communities called Networks. Now here is where it gets interesting.

When “real” friends sit down for a brew or two, many things are said. For the most part, they continue to exist only in semi-fogged minds or in the memories of jaded bartenders. But in Facebook, written Wall contents are visible to all with access. And a LOT of people can have access. That does not stop some people from saying whatever they wish without a care in the world. Delegate Ali is one of these people.

Below are a few excerpts from Delegate Ali’s Wall. Bear in mind that I have not connected with him as a Friend (and now I am certain he will forbid it!) but nevertheless I and MANY thousands of others have access. Here the Delegate states, “Saqib’s advice for single guys: Lots of needy women at NKOTB [New Kids on the Block] concerts.” He also says he is selling Free O.J. T-shirts “out of the trunk of his car.”

“Saqib’s barber shop offers bizarre conversations from an alternative reality.”

“Saqib loves Fridays like a fat kid loves cake.”

“Saqib feels strange confusing emotions when Sarah Palin winks at him.”

“Saqib wants to see [former NFL star] Warren Sapp crush that skinny blond woman.”

“Saqib asks his constituents What can Brown do for you?” (One of them says, “You can start by replying to my emails.”)

“Saqib just bought several cans of Ax bodyspray to attract the ladies.”

“Saqib is Superwoman. Yes I am.”

“Saqib wonders how creepy he seems if he asks job applicants to first add him as their Friend on Facebook.”

“Saqib gets it from his Momma!”

“Saqib requests other men not to make idle chit-chat with him in the locker room if you are naked. I’m just sayin’.”

“Saqib thought today was Halloween and wore a cute Little Red Riding Hood outfit to work.”

“Saqib feels the need to sneeze obnoxiously loudly to affirm his manhood.”

“Saqib is considering changing his FaceBook relationship status to single just to see what would happen.” (The Delegate is married.)

“Saqib: If a woman’s work is never done, I must be a woman… a really, really hot woman!” (One of the Delegate’s Friends replies, “Saqib, be responsible.”)

“Saqib takes his cell phone into the shower with him. Is that wierd? [sic]”

Sigh... Let’s give Delegate Ali some credit here. With a few exceptions (like Big Daddy and Delegate Luiz Simmons), most politicians try to bury their personalities for fear of offending voters. Just check out their pitifully boring “blogs.” But following in the footsteps of blind superhero Daredevil, Delegate Ali is a man without fear! Shouldn’t we appreciate a politician who bares all (assuming we do not approach too closely in the locker room)?

Some will question whether I am invading the Delegate’s privacy by posting the above. The fact is that Facebook is private only to the extent that a participant wants it to be private. First, I was able to view this content even though I am not the Delegate’s Friend. That means, at a minimum, his privacy setting allows Friends of Friends to access it. The Delegate has over 900 Friends. If each of them has, on average, 50 Friends, that means tens of thousands of people can see his Wall. Second, the Delegate himself invites his constituents to become his Facebook Friends on his campaign website (see below). As of this writing, the above content is about as public as it gets.

So if you are a politician – or an aspiring politician – is this how you want to appear before constituents? If so, then get on that Little Red Riding Hood outfit and crush that skinny blond woman! If not, then BEWARE of Facebook.

Update: I wrote the first draft of this post last weekend, long before Delegate Ali's amazingly well-timed comment complaining that this blog is "bland." You just can't make this stuff up, folks!

Update 2: We have offended many politicians on this blog in the past, but not Delegate Ali! He seems to be enjoying the attention as he says, "Saqib is flattered to have Adam Pagnucco stalking him."

Update 3: At one point early this afternoon, 36% of all traffic to the site came in directly to this post without going through the home page. The home page itself only received 34% of the traffic. That level of interest in a single post is almost unprecedented in the history of this blog. Total traffic averaged one visit per minute around lunchtime, probably the second-highest rate of intensity behind the day when we ran Crisis at the Gazette Part Two. Saqib Ali is a lot more famous today than he was yesterday.

Update 4: Don't forget to vote in our Saqib Ali poll!

Update 5: Direct visits to this post now account for 38% of all visits to this blog. I don't recall having seen that before, but then again, we've never had a post quite like this one. Thanks, Delegate!

Update 6: It's at 40%. How come you guys don't react like this when I put up budget stuff?