This is one of the more interesting instances I can recall of Facebook being used in a negative mailer, mainly because of the lack of proof surrounding the alleged post.
Brian Davis is a Democratic candidate for the Kansas House of Representatives, challenging Republican Representative Jan Pauls (R-Hutchinson). Pauls recently launched a mailer against Davis for a Facebook image that he allegedly shared on his Facebook page:
The controversial Facebook post appears to have come from “Armed Democrats on FB” and supposedly appeared on Davis’ candidate Facebook page in April. It shows a hooded man pointing a gun at the camera and says: “Did You know? Most of the terrorist activity in the U.S. in recent years has not come from Muslims, but from radical Christians, white supremacists and far-right militia groups.”
“Is there anything else I need to say?” appears to be Davis’ comment.
Here’s the thing: Davis denies having ever posted such a comment, and the comment doesn’t appear on his Facebook page. That’s not to say that it never appeared, however, as the comment could have been deleted. But, without proof, this comes down to a “his word against hers” situation, which makes it interesting that the mailer was launched in the first place. Of course, this is politics that we are talking about, and proof has never really mattered too much.
What this mailer does show is the dangers of Facebook for political candidates. I have no idea whether or not Davis made such a post to his Facebook page. If so, it would be pretty stupid, but as this blog has shown, people in politics do stupid things on social media all the time. If you assume, for the sake of argument, that the post did happen, then the lesson is obvious: be careful with the content that you post on your Facebook page.
If, however, you believe Davis and he never made the post, the lesson is this: social media can be another liability. You can’t prove a negative, and I can’t think of anyway to show that this post was never made, since all the evidence could be deleted. Unless Pauls actually has proof that the post was made, like a screenshot, I think Davis may have a real case for a lawsuit. This entire incident is proof that a Facebook page can be used in a negative matter, even if you never do anything negative. That’s a harsh reality of social media and politics, unfortunately.