October 1st, 2010
A message just flitted across an online politics listserv that illustrates a new form of political dirty tricks: using Facebook’s reporting system to mark your opponents’ information as spam. Someone wrote in to report that staff from their opponent’s campaign have been marking their messages and Wall posts as “inappropriate” or reporting them as spam, causing Facebook to lock the targeted candidate’s account twice in one day, despite many calls to the company to get the problem resolved.
Dirty tricks are nothing new to online politics (DDOS attack, anyone?), but with Facebook still relatively inexperienced in the political space, the company itself doesn’t seem to be prepared to respond as quickly as campaigns need. Perhaps it’s time to take a lesson from Google and build out a sizable team dedicated to working with campaigns full-time — their needs are unique, and even just a few hours can make a big difference. Particularly during a GOTV frenzy or a fundraising push.