South Bend, IN Councilman posts “explicit picture” of man and dog to Facebook

Henry DavisCan’t say I ever thought I’d write that headline.

Henry Davis, Jr., is a Democratic Councilman in South Bend, Indiana.  He represents the city’s 2nd Council District and is no stranger to controversy, having previously been arrested by police after a traffic stop.  He’s in hot water again, though this time the case is bizarre enough to make national news.

Most elected officials use their Facebook posts to advocate for important issues and draw attention to things they care about.  Mr. Davis decided to use Facebook to post about…bestiality.  In a Facebook post, Mr. Davis uploaded a picture of “explicit photograph of a man and a dog Sunday night, along with a link to the blog post criticizing the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  No, I cannot find a screenshot of the post.  No, I am not looking to hard, because I want to sleep at night.

Of course, a further examination of the blog that Davis linked to only made matters worse:

The blog Davis linked to, www.reunionblackfamily.com, says its mission is to unite black families around the world.

Other recent posts on the site include “Whites used black babies as alligator bait” and “White NYPD cops rejoice after beating up black teens after botched stop and frisk.”

In a statement after the post, Davis said, “”I regret that an article posted to my Facebook page was mistakenly taken as an expression of my personal or political views.” I’m not quite sure how he thought a post of that nature would be taken, but hey, whatever works.

The post, naturally, did not cover over well with the residents of South Bend.  In accordance with City rules, it is possible for Davis to be removed from office for misconduct.  To do so, city residents have to first file a complaint, which can then be examined by the city’s Rules Committee.  The Rules Committee can then recommend a range of penalties, including removal from office.  That process started two days ago, when city residents filed a complaint against Davis, saying that “The posting on Facebook is obscene, against public decency and shows a total lack of professionalism.”  City Council’s rules committee will examine the complaints and go forward from there.

Yes, I will be watching this to see if Davis is ultimately removed from office.  This one is mind boggling.

When a Fail isn’t a Fail: Congressman calls Obama a Socialist “chef” and will likely get applauded at home

One of the first blog entries I wrote here was when New Jersey Governor Chris Christie screamed at a teacher and had the reaction catapulted across Social Media.  The subsequent backlash was…well, predictable.  Christie’s opponents attacked him for it, but his supporters thought it was fantastic, and it ultimately didn’t hurt Christie’s numbers.  As such, what for a normal politician would have been a fail probably had no negative effects on Christie.

Another example of that phenomenon happened yesterday.  The politician was Congressman Randy Weber (R-TX), who replaced former Congressman and Presidential candidate Ron Paul.  Shortly before the State of the Union began, Weber sent out this tweet:

I don’t know what bothers me more about this tweet: the use of “Kommandant,” “Socialistic Dictator” or the fact that he called about a “chef” instead of chief.  According to Buzzfeed, a spokesman did confirm that the tweets were from Weber.

Anyway, for a normal politician, this would probably boomerang, badly.  But, given the conservative nature of Weber’s district, this is probably going to be more helpful than hurtful.  After all, this is the same district that sent Ron Paul to Congress for seven terms.  And President Obama certainly isn’t popular in this Congressional district; Romney beat Obama there 59-39%.  Thus, despite the terms used, Weber probably won’t see any negative consequences for the tweet.  

This is a great example of a “fail” not being a fail, considering the political situation.  One man’s fail is another man’s treasure, and Weber’s district will will likely allow him to make these types of outlandish comments.  Incidentally, going back to that Christie fail I first referenced: Christie’s political situation has changed dramatically in the wake of the bridge closure scandal, and a recent poll showed his favorability ratings crashing.  If he were to go nuts on a teacher now, I guarantee that the reaction would be much more negative.  He’d be attacking from a position of weakness, not a position of strength.

Fortunately for Weber, the real fail of last night probably drowned out this tweet.  Congressman Michael Grimm (R-NY), who is currently under investigation for campaign finance violations, threatened to throw a reporter off a balcony and “break him in half” after the reporter had the temerity to ask him about the investigation.  All of this, of course, was captured on video:

Grimm has since apologized.

Pro tip: don’t make violent threats when cameras are rolling.

Senator Ted Cruz’s father is victim of Facebook hack; has porn posted on page

As an elected official myself, I go out of my way to avoid discussing the family of other electeds; I know that if anyone ever brought up my wife or my kids in a political context, I’d lose my mind.  However, sometimes, the family member interjects themselves into politics, and when they happen, I believe they should be treated the same as any other political figure.  Such was the case for the father of Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rafael Cruz, who was apparently the victim of a Facebook hacking over the weekend.

Mr. Cruz is a popular conservative activist who has generated controversy for his previous political comments.  In the past, he had encouraged President Obama to go “back to Kenya” and had called gay marriage and evolution “marxist” attempts to “destroy God.”  Naturally, these attacks also endeared Mr. Cruz to thousands.  Cruz has a Facebook page of over 13,000 fans.

On Sunday, someone apparently hacked into Mr. Cruz’s Facebook page and uploaded pornography.  Mr. Cruz deleted the image and posted this apology note:

RafaelCruzApology

I didn’t see the picture (and wouldn’t post it anyway), but Cruz obviously isn’t the first public figure to get his Facebook page hacked.  Among other previous victims: Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook…ouch.

Facebook has enabled two-factor authentication, which requires not only a password, but the input of a randomly generated six-digit number that is texted to an authorized users phone.  This can, of course, dramatically cut down on unauthorized use of Facebook pages and is highly recommended for public figures. 

Republican National Committeeman posts makes insanely homophobic Facebook posts; everyone wants him to resign

Dave AgemaThis is Dave Agema, and Mr. Agema is at the center of some of the craziest Facebook posts I’ve seen in a while.

Each state sends one man and one woman to represent it at the National GOP committee.  In 2012, at the Michigan GOP Republican Convention, Dave Agema was elected to service that role.  And it all pretty much went downhill from there.

As reported by Dave Weigel of Slate, Agema also made a post, replete with badly sourced and woefully inaccurate information about gays, entitled “Everyone Should Know These Statistics About Homosexuals”:

Agema Gay Stats

Among the “statistics” in the article: “homosexual sexual encounters occur while drunk, high on drugs, or in an orgy setting,… Homosexuals account for half the murders in large cities” and “50% of suicides can be attributed to homosexuals.”

This is not the only incredibly ignorant post by Agema.  He also called Russia’s approach to homosexuality “common sense”:

Agema Russia Common Sense

Agema also managed to make pretty inflammatory comments towards Muslims.  A post on his Facebook page included the following anti-Muslim rant:

Agema Anti-Muslim Post

To no one’s surprise, a wide variety of high profile Republicans have called on Agema to resign his post.  This includes the head of the Republican National Committee, Reince Preibus, as well as the head of the Michigan GOP and Democratic Committees.

Will Agema resign?  He says no.  In a recent Facebook post, Agema acknowledged that what he said was inappropriate, but refused to resign:

“I have learned much over the last several weeks and will use the lessons learned to improve on my abilities to further the best interests of all people of Michigan, through my role as a proud member of the Republican National Committee,” he said in the release.

“I have received great response at packed audiences, drawing voters to the GOP. I fully intend to honor the trust and fulfill the responsibilities to those in the Michigan Republican Party that elected me.”

However, Agema did miss the most recent RNC meeting.

As long as Mr. Agema serves, he will continue to be an embarrassment for the GOP.  The sooner they get him to resign, the better.

Iowa GOP posts “Is someone a racist?” flowchart to Facebook

In an attempt to make fun of those who are too sensitive to political correctness, the Iowa GOP was forced into an apology over a Facebook post that seemed to trivialize racism.

On Friday night, this brilliant “Is someone a racist?” post appeared on the Iowa GOP’s Facebook page:

Iowa GOP FlowchartThe post appears to take a shot at those who accuse others of racism.  Of course, it makes no distinction between those who actually make claims of racism for their own advantage and those who make claims of racism because someone is actually being racist.  Given that the Republican party is in the middle of a rebranding effort and that it continues to struggle with its outreach to minorities and women, the timing of this post was pretty poor.  Really, the comment above by Alex Patch pretty much says it all – how on earth was a post like the above helpful in pushing the overall Republican message?

Clearly, someone at the Iowa GOP agreed, and the post was removed and replaced by this apology:

Iowa GOP Apology

About that apology: Chairman Spiker (by the way, great name) accurately described the posts as being in bad taste and inappropriate.  But then he apologized “to those whom were offended.”  This is a pet peeve of mine.  Don’t just apologize to those who were offended.  That’s a ridiculous qualifier designed to try to say “we’re really sorry, but to those of you who thought it was funny, well, we’re not REALLY sorry.”  When you screw up, be classy and apologize to everyone.

You’ll also note that Spiker makes a reference to the GOP having a contractor – in other words, a third party service that is running their Facebook page.  That’s not uncommon and perfectly reasonable.  However, it teaches a great point about what to do when a third party person is operating your Social Media.  Make sure that they have clear guidelines about content NOT to post.

Any thoughts to add?  Let us know in the comments!

Young people are leaving Facebook, and there are repercussions for politics and governing

First, let me be clear what this entry is not about: sounding the death knell of Facebook.  I am not screaming that Facebook is going broke and that advertisers should take the tens of billions that they invest in Facebook and put them into Pintrest instead.

I do want to make a point though: Facebook does have a youth problem, and it may have ramifications, in the long-term, for the platform.  From the standpoint of governing and politics, it may require an expansion of attention and effort.

First, the info.  In an October 2013 earnings call, Facebook’s Chief Financial Officer, David Ebersman, said that the network was losing teenage users.  Indeed, check out these numbers:

Facebook Losing Teens

That’s a 25% drop in 13-17 year olds in three years.  That could be seriously problematic for the network.  Now, it’s not as if teenagers are putting down their phones and embracing the warm sunshine.  They are still on Social Networks but different ones like Vine, Pinterest, Snapchat and Instagram.

So, what does this mean for government?  First, if you want to communicate with teens, Facebook does still win in raw numbers, but you need to pay attention to alternative sources as well.

In the long term, this means that you will need to keep an eye on trends.  As these teens become adults and their purchasing power increases, and they become voters and more engaged citizens, it will be interesting to see whether or not their social media tastes shift towards Facebook or continue to turn away from it.  Remember MySpace?  That once ran the world in terms of Social Networking.  Facebook is too smart not to adapt, but this will be interesting to watch.

Right now, Facebook is certainly the best Social Media platform for communicating with your constituents.  If these trends keep up, that may change.

What do you think?  Am I right or wrong?  Let me know in the comments!

 

Federal Judge uses official account to send wildly inappropriate Emails

This is not a “Social Media” fail, per se, but it certainly is the same general idea: a appointed official of high prestige using the internet in a manner that is both absurdly stupid and beneath the dignity of his office.

In 2012, Judge Richard Cebull was busted for using his official Email address to send a racially charged Email about President Obama:

A little boy said to his mother; ‘Mommy, how come I’m black and you’re white?’” the email joke reads. “His mother replied, ‘Don’t even go there Barack! From what I can remember about that party, you’re lucky you don’t bark!’

Really high-quality jurist there.

A report was released this past Friday which showed that Cebull had used his official address to send hundreds of inappropriate Emails on a variety of issues, including many which dealt with issues that may have appeared before Cebull’s court.  These included other racially charged Emails, attacks on LGBT individuals, women, immigrants and more.

Cebull was sanctioned though his impeachment was not recommended, since the investigation found that Cebull had not actually violated any laws.  The same report found that Cebull’s rulings showed no indication of bias, though two of the judges on the review panel did say that they would have asked for Cebull’s resignation.

Among the sanctions:

  • A public repremand.
  • No new cases for 180 days.
  • Training on ethics, racial awareness and bias
  • A second public apology.

Cebull stepped down as judge in 2013, two weeks after the findings were first released.  As a result, much of the above order was never enforced.

Cebull’s only saving grace here is that there were no findings of bias – otherwise, he could have been in real trouble.

I can never get over how dumb someone has to be to put so much inappropriateness in writing.  As we saw in Pennsylvania during the Bonusgate scandal, inappropriate use of Email is one of the dumbest things anyone can do.  Why on earth would you put illegal or morally questionable activities in writing?  Digital is forever.