Those are the most polite words I could think to use for Ben Hall’s current Facebook troubles. I would like to tell this story, from the start, because it is quite entertaining. Imagine Annise Parker’s campaign team held a meeting to come up with the absolute worst-case scenario that could arise out of Hall advertising on Facebook. That might as well be what happened, considering how badly Dr Hall’s campaign messed up (again, to use polite words).
First, Dr Hall’s campaign had a pathetically lackluster showing in the Social Media races. While Parker had other 50k Facebook likes and 15k Twitter followers, Hall had about 2k likes and 200 followers. At one point, I was keeping track of the race between them, but I eventually quit because it was not anywhere near competitive.
Eventually, the Hall campaign decided (quite rightly so) that a Social Media presence would be invaluable in a 21st Century campaign. The campaign then invested thousands of dollars into online advertisements, specifically on Facebook and Twitter. Now, the way these sorts of advertisements work is that you come up with some buzz words and select a general geographical location. I have no knowledge of how the Hall campaign answered these questions, but based upon the results, I have an inkling as to what they answered.
Most likely, the buzz words “fed up” or “morass” or “angry” were used. This would have been done, ostensibly, in an attempt to attract all those healthy dissidents who respectfully oppose Mayor Parker’s administration. Instead, the buzz words tended to match up nicely with those who support armed insurrections and the like. Additionally, instead of focusing on Houstonians, the ads targeted individuals from throughout the State.
The result was a sorry collection of Rednecks, Klansmen, Neo-Nazis and McVeigh sympathizers who found their ways to the Ben Hall campaign’s Facebook page. This ended up causing, again, an unmitigated disaster. Ben Hall’s Facebook likes rose from about 2k to 5.7k, causing nearly 2/3 of the supporters to be astroturfed non-Houstonians.
By coincidence, all of this occurred immediately before the George Zimmerman verdict. Shortly after the verdict, Hall posted a long statement condemning the verdict and expressing sympathy with protesters and Trayvon Martin’s family. This was the first public statement Hall’s “new supporters” had seen.
In this example, Mr. Steven Parker Fishing denigrates Dr Hall’s candidacy. The special individual hosts a Confederate Flag as his profile picture. He is from Abilene.
In this second, we have two very special individuals who “like” Dr Hall’s campaign page. The first such individual, Mr Rick Oliver, is a Neo-Nazi. His profile picture is the Iron Cross, the well-known symbol of the German Army before 1945. The second such individual, James Martin, is not an open Neo-Nazi or Klansman, but is quite open about his ignorance. He associates African-Americans and “race baiters” as two in the same, admitting his is too ignorant and racist to support a politician, just because of the colour of her or his skin.
These sorts of ignorant and prejudicial comments are a ubiquitous feature on any and every post by the Ben Hall campaign. Instead of just unliking the page, these bumpkin types decided to stick around and just troll every single post. For example, the Neo-Nazi comments occurred on a completely innocuous post about fundraising. Odds are, every post will garner a dozen hateful comments, and at least one Confederate flag profile picture. Nearly all of these types are not Houstonians, most all of them are from East Texas.
So Ben Hall’s campaign has not only wasted thousands of dollars on internet advertising, but has used money in a way that is actively harmful to his electoral chances. Yet another setback for the campaign.