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July 29, 2008

VT Candidate Shut Down by Facebook

Vermont independent gubernatorial candidate Sam Young and Scrabulous have something in common: both have been shut down by the popular social networking site Facebook.

Young had his Facebook account turned off for more than a week because, according to correspondence with Facebook that the candidate shared with Seven Days, he was amassing friends at too fast a clip. I caught up with Young this week via, what else, Facebook, where we corresponded.

"They have limits set up to prevent people from making too many friends," Young wrote. "Apparently my behavior looks like I am a spammer."

In a plea to Facebook, the Northeast Kingdom candidate said using the site is a key organizing strategy:

"I am trying to use Facebook as a political tool to network Vermont and get the youth involved in politics. This is a really important  project to get rid of a Bush Republican who is running our state. If I need to adhere to specific rules that is fine and I am sorry if I have broken them."

In their response, Facebook told Young he needed to slow down the pace at which he was friending people, and so Young is now putting a plea out to his supporters to get people to friend him instead. This may help make his effort look less dubious. In their reply, Facebook told Young:

"Your account was disabled because you exceeded Facebook's limits on multiple occasions when adding friends, despite having been warned to slow down."

If Young's account is disabled again, Facebook officials warned, it won't be turned on again.

Other candidates running for governor have yet to encounter such problems with Facebook. Incumbent Republican Gov. Jim Douglas, Democrat Gaye Symington and Progressive-turned-independent Anthony Pollina are also using Facebook to keep in touch with some supporters. Only Douglas comes close to matching the friends Young has amassed. The others have garnered only a fraction.

Here's the tally as of July 29:

Young: 1092
Douglas: 573
Symington: 172
Pollina: 136

A quick note on Pollina's profile page: As of July 29, he was still listing his political affiliation as "Progressive Party." Some habits are hard to break.

So if I have more Facebook friends than Anthony Pollina and Gaye Symington, does that mean I can run for Governor? I suppose I'd stand about as much chance as them at beating a Vermont incumbent.

Is that a statement of candidacy? All you need is 500 signatures by early September.

Unfortunately Shay, I know about as much as John McCain about the economy and as a result, I'm not even qualified for Dog Catcher. I suppose I could be a Lt. Governor though! :)

I have more friends than Symington or Pollina — how about I run for guv and Bill, you can be my running mate? Because I knows lots about the economies. And the internets.

Who was running this leg of the campaign? The didn't realize they'd get knock for spamming? Quite obvious. I can see how it played out..."Yes we just reached 100 friends! 500 friends! 1000 friends!!! And now-...wait...what just happened?" There are so many more effective ways to utilize internet marketing which take much less time than spamming social network sites.

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