Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Exactly what is it you allegedly don't understand about Facebook social networking British Columbians?

These are potential voters New Democratic Party of British Columbia!

Good Day Folks:

For Jeff Fox provincial President of the New Democratic Party to suggest most British Columbians don't understand Facebook as a social networking tool is, well, incomprehensible. Ever heard of Twitter Sir?

Incresingly we're moving, and may already be there, into the era of the online election. Political Parties that don't realize and take advantage of it do so at their own peril. We need look no farther then Barack Obama to see an example of how the electronic system can be manipulated during and after campaigns.

Clare L. Pieuk

Most In B.C. Can't grasp Facebook, NDP Official Says
Party president says photos weren't public when researchers checked candidate's site

Globe and Mail
April 21, 2009

BURNABY, B.C. and VANCOUVER — The social networking site Facebook, the source a B.C. New Democratic Party candidate's downfall this week, is a mystery to the president of the provincial NDP.

Jeff Fox blamed the generation gap for the embarrassment over photographs that appeared on Ray Lam's Facebook site.

"Most British Columbians don't understand Facebook as a social networking tool. I come from a different generation and I don't fully understand Facebook. What I learned in the last 24 hours is that you can have more than one level of access," said Mr. Fox, who is 52.

Mr. Lam, 22, resigned as the NDP's candidate for Vancouver-False Creek on Sunday after the photos were uncovered on his publicly accessible Facebook site, which he promoted with links on his campaign page.

Among the photographs was one of a smiling man that the page identifies as Mr. Lam hugging a woman in a low-cut dress, his hand on her breast. In another, the same man is with friends, his pants pulled down to display his underwear.

The page was still accessible on the Internet yesterday but the photo links had been removed.

Mr. Fox said the party's vetting process for candidates was revamped after it shed three candidates over controversies in last fall's federal election campaign. But it was not fine-tuned enough to deal with the basic settings of Facebook, he said.

Last month, Mr. Lam provided the party with a link to his Facebook site, among other things, as part of his filing with the green-light candidates committee. However, researchers who investigated those details did not uncover the compromising photographs.

"When our people checked the page out, it was an innocuous, rather boring page about nothing with no evidence of restriction and no need to probe on that," Mr. Fox said.

He said that at that time, the photos were not posted so as to be publicly accessible.

NDP Leader Carole James deemed the photos "inappropriate," and said they showed a lack of judgment.

"No one likes to lose a candidate during a campaign, but that's politics. Ray didn't want this to be a distraction in the campaign, so we are moving on," Ms. James said.

The party has until the end of the week to choose a replacement candidate for the May 12 election.

Ms. James said her party attempts to uncover the footprints potential candidates leave on the Internet, but that not all information is accessible.

"It's a reminder for all candidates of all political parties that when you become a public figure, everything becomes public.

"Private has a different view when you are a public figure."

In a rare sign of unity, Liberal Leader Gordon Campbell agreed with his rival.

"When you decide you're going to run for public office and you put as part of your communications material pictures like that, I think that's got to call into question, No. 1, your judgment and, No. 2, that the candidate decided he was going to make that part of his public life," Mr. Campbell said, while campaigning at the Peace Arch border crossing yesterday.

"I don't care about his private life. When he decides to make it public, it's part of his public life and people will judge him according to that."

Mr. Campbell also recalled the case of Mable Elmore, the NDP's candidate in Vancouver-Kensington.

Late last month, Ms. Elmore apologized for remarks in a 2004 magazine interview in which she referred to a battle in B.C. against "vocal Zionists."

Said Mr. Campbell: "It's just a few weeks ago that we had the leader of the opposition tell us she was very disappointed with a candidate who had said that she didn't understand being anti-Zionist was something the Jewish community would be concerned with," he said.

"She said, 'We're going to look at this. We're going to make sure we get it right.' Well, they still haven't done it. I think that undermines a lot of the claims that they have made."

Chad Pederson, a spokesman for the provincial Liberal Party, said the vetting of candidates includes a general questionnaire and an examination of online sites in which material about them might appear. "We always suggest our candidates be mindful of anything they put in the public arena and that includes online media like Facebook."


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