The Wall Street Journal ran a piece today that included an interview with a former film executive, Alex Grossman, about a fraudulent Facebook page he set up in June in order to impersonate Governor Palin. Grossman even secured the name "Governor Palin" for the page. He then went on to update the fake page on a regular basis with absurd and offensive posts like this:
He posted messages like, “I need a salmon recipe for tonight. Todd just brought home a fresh one. Something spicy!” (Dozens of “friends” sent recipes in response.) Another update read, “GOD LOVES US ALL, no matter how black or African, or even gay or Jewish we are.”
While some may think that this is just innocent fun, I would like to direct your attention to some of the messages people sent to Grossman because they thought he was Sarah Palin:
“Sarah, You are the brightest star I’ve seen in government in decades. I met ‘Joe the Plumber’ … and could see BOTH of you in high office….Please let me know where I can send a donation.”
One woman wrote that she had a sick child and she asked that “Sarah” pray for him.
I wonder how funny these individuals would find Grossman's antics.
An especially troubling component to Grossman's impersonation was the manner in which he mocked people's sincere faith to manipulate them into thinking they were recieving messages from the real Governor Palin. Here's an example:
Toward the end of July, Grossman found himself facing a few more skeptics. Grossman believed he was able to quell their doubts by making religious references. “As long as I wrote ‘HE IS ON OUR SIDE,’ in all caps, they seemed willing to ignore some of the obvious signs,” Grossman said.
It's common for some on the left to make fun of people's faith in God while they put their own faith in big government. As clever as Grossman thought he was being, he was really taking advantage of the generous qualities inherent in the faith of the people he was fooling.
Thankfully, Facebook management shut down Grossman's page, and a spokesman provided the Wall Street Journal with an explanation:
On August 9, Grossman tried to sign on to the site but was denied with an “Account Has Been Disabled” message. Many of his “friends” have emailed him (Palin) — at firstname.lastname@example.org, the address he had posted on the Facebook tab listing Palin’s purported contact — inquiring about the vanished page.
Simon Axten, a spokesman for Facebook said, “It’s a violation of our policies to use a fake name or operate under a false identity, and we encourage users to report anyone they think is doing this.”
Meg Stapleton, Governor Palin's spokeswoman, explained why it is important for people to able to trust Facebook and why she was pleased with the response of Facebook management:
“We have hundreds of thousands of supporters looking out for the governor,” said Palin’s spokeswoman, Meg Stapleton. ” Many emailed us questioning the validity of this one site in particular which pretended to post comments on her behalf. The governor’s private attorney, Thomas Van Flein, contacted the legal counsel for Facebook, Mark Howitson, who worked quickly to resolve the situation and was very responsive. ”
“Every day Governor Palin deals with individuals, politicians, and corporations pushing fake and inaccurate information into various media. She believes strongly in the efficacy of using direct web-based communication forums like Facebook and Twitter to reach her supporters, the media, and the public at large. Maintaining the integrity of these forums is obviously fundamental to this new type of interactive communication. With that in mind, we greatly appreciated Facebook’s prompt response in disabling the impostor site.”
Governor Palin has been able to effectively utilize social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. While some might have speculated that only a few dedicated followers would sign up to hear from her, the response has been incredible. Governor Palin currently has more than 135,000 followers on Twitter, and she has over 740,000 supports on Facebook. These figures are increasing by the hour.
This type of communication allows Governor Palin to get information directly to the people without the bias of the mainstream media. That's not to say she ignores them, but she doesn't have to rely on them to get her message out. This was recently evident with her Facebook statements on Obamacare.
The article ends with Grossman declaring that he has gained some special insight into Governor Palin's supporters through this deceitful process. He concluded that they look to her to lead them in a some sort of religious movement. Grossman believes that people can't possibly support her because of her policies, and the entire foundation of her support is religious in nature. As an aside, a recent Rasmussen poll showed that relative to the other Republican Presidential candidates, Governor Palin supporters were mainly young, unmarried, and never or rarely attended church. So much for Grossman's theory.
As Governor Palin continues to be on the cutting edge of political communication, I expect her influence to continue to increase.