The recall drive remains and social media's influence

By Ed Martin, The Leader Editor
The recall drive remains and social media's influence

Since its advent, social media has rapidly shaped how we think about such things as campaigns, corruption in politics and the number of “Likes” it takes a Facebook user to make a point.

Politicians, Tea Partiers, movie stars, bloggers and others have been using social sites to express their views. Even the common folk, who reside in small towns like Lemoore, use social media, even for such things as recalling city councilmembers.

 Last week, Lisa Elgin, a former Lemoore Planning Commissioner and candidate for city council, who is helping to organize a recall effort of Mayor Billy Siegel and Councilmember John Gordon, watched almost helplessly as her “Recall Siegel and Gordon” Facebook Page suddenly disappeared into the unspoken void of social media heaven.

“They just unpublished it,” said Elgin who quietly has been organizing recall petitioners in anticipation of an expected recall. “They just took it down. Somebody just reported it and Facebook is reviewing it,” she said.

Turns out someone complained that the recall Facebook page, which Elgin monitors, was guilty of harassment and hate speech. Elgin, who still has access to the page and has reviewed it with a fine tooth comb, told The Leader that she hasn’t found anything faintly resembling harassment or hate speech.

The issue of what constitutes the removal of a Facebook page for what it considers harassment, probably still need to be defined more clearly, because some who monitor this particular site, can’t seem to find the guilty passages.

The mayor may think that The Leader labeling him a lousy golfer on Facebook may be harassment, but it’s not. Likewise, criticizing councilmembers for bad decisions isn’t harassment either. It’s free speech, and Facebook should know better. So should the city’s mayor. He and Mr. Gordon should be speaking up in favor of freedom of speech, not rejoicing the demise of a person’s right to it.

Let’s just say for the sake of argument that I think the mayor is a lousy golfer and I happen to post it on Facebook? Is that harassment? Should Facebook guru Mark Zuckerberg cast me into Facebook hell for my unkind words?

For the record I don’t know if the mayor is a lousy golfer or not, but he does seem to play a lot, one of his recent excursions, a round at the Lemoore Golf Course courtesy of the Lemoore taxpayer. Recently he participated in a foursome with a representative of the Tachi Hotel and Casino, the local gaming resort that clearly has an interest in buying the city’s golf course.

For the record once again I attempted to email the mayor with some questions. He acknowledged the email, but failed to answer the following questions:

  1.  Do you feel there was inappropriate material on the Recall’s Facebook page that warranted it being removed for review by Facebook?
  2. You told The Sentinel that you did not lodge the complaint and you don’t know who did. Do you know now? Also, if you didn’t know these things, how do you know it was taken down for harassment?

Facebook may certainly reverse its decision once the site is reviewed, but Elgin and her supporters aren’t waiting in anticipation of that happening anytime soon. They’ve decided to put together a new website, which was posted Saturday on the web.

It’s interesting that Mayor Siegel says he didn’t lodge the complaint and has no idea who did lodge the complaint against the Facebook page in question, but he told The Hanford Sentinel that it was removed due to complaints of harassment.

How does he know? Word of mouth? Does he have a direct line to Zuckerberg?

Mr. Gordon also chimed in to The Sentinel, proclaiming that because a Facebook page set up to support him, garnered more “likes” than did the recall site - meaning presumably that there are more positive people in Lemoore than negative people. I sincerely hope that when Mr. Gordon is faced with a difficult decision that could impact the future of Lemoore, he doesn’t post the question to Facebook and make his decision based on the number of “likes.”

Despite the turmoil of losing a Facebook page due to suspicious circumstances, Elgin and recall supporters toil on, preparing a new recall website and organizing the recall, a thing she says will happen.

Comments powered by Disqus