May 11, 2011 § 1 Comment
Summary of the Case
During the 2010 elections for the Mayor of Toronto, Canada, Rob Ford’s staff, created a fake Twitter account to pretend to support his opposing candidate in the run for mayor, he also mislead a voter via twitter into handing over incriminating evidence to him. Fraser Macdonald, a member of Ford’s Staff established the fake twitter account where he pretended to be, @QueensQuayKaren, a women who “likes politics, her cat Mittens and a good book.” The twitter account acted as if “she” was supporting George Smitherman, Ford’s opponent. Some of @QueensQuayKaren tweets include, “I can see Ford’s appeal. I don’t agree with him on everything, but the man speaks the truth. George needs to improve on that,” and “@ThomsonTO that bitchy attitude sure got you far, Sarah [another opposing candidate]. It’s funny that I once respected you. Now you’re just a total embarrassment.”
The account was also used to befriend a person who made tapes of Rob Ford offering to buy prescription painkillers on the street. Through Twitter, Macdonald was able to get a copy of the tape to give to the “Toronto Sun” before it was leaked to “Star” where it could be more damaging to their campaign.
After people began to realize Ford’s deception through Twitter the account was deleted. Although the account was deleted Ford was still getting complaints about the deception, which Macdonald handled by tweeting “Enjoying the feedback: Positive and Negative, re: One of the many ways the Ford Campaign outsmarted the competition. #voteto #Getoverit”
Issues at Stake
Rob Ford’s electoral campaign was at stake. Although he won the election, the deceit he portrayed may have lead some of his supporters to vote against him. However, many of his supporters were probably not surprised because Rob Ford is known for some of his deceitful behavior. Ford has been involved in physical and verbal altercations, he has publicly expressed racial slurs against “oriental people,” he has been arrested for a DUI and marijuana possession, and along with other incidences he has made incorrect and ignorant statements about AIDS stating, “(AIDS) is very preventable,” and that “if you are not doing needles and you are not gay, you wouldn’t get AIDS probably, that’s bottom line.” Because of his shocking behavior in the past, his staff ghost-tweeting probably did not surprise many of his followers.
Ford was not being transparent with his followers through Twitter. His staff took on a false identity on twitter with the attempt to outsmart the opposing parties. The attempt was obviously not successful or else the account would not have been deleted before the campaign was over.
He was also not being transparent with the person he got the incriminating material from; he was not honest about what his intended actions were once he acquired the material. By ghost-tweeting he was able to get the material and use it to broadcast himself in a better light instead of it being released to “Star” later in the electoral process where it would have had a more damaging effect to his campaign (Tactical Transparency, Shel Holtz and John Havens.)
Pros and Cons of the decision
The only positive aspect of ghost-tweeting for Ford was acquiring the incriminating material from the person on twitter. Although he was dishonest in his intentions with the material his end goal was achieved by causing as little harm as possible to his campaign, releasing the tape earlier then later, and to the right publication that would portray him in the best light. If Ford’s ghost-tweeting plan would have been successful, he may have accomplished making some of the supporters of Ford’s opposing candidate change their minds and vote for him. However, the plan was exposed before it could achieve anything. Therefore, I do not believe the unethical behavior of ghost-tweeting after acquiring the incriminating evidence accomplished anything positive during his campaign.
The Cons to this are that Ford was being dishonest using a fake twitter account and misleading the person who gave him the incriminating material as well as misleading other twitter followers. Doing this will only reinforce his reputation of devious behavior. He was not being transparent with his actions. After the ghost-tweeting was exposed, his staff did not respond to his followers very kindly. They told people to just, “get over it,” instead of apologizing for their actions. Ghost-tweeting made Ford appear as a dishonest, fraudulent person, which may take a while to get over, especially on the internet.
My recommendation for Rob Ford is to be transparent with his followers. If he still won the election then he must have a large group of followers. He would probably have even greater support if he started to become transparent during his campaigns and tell his followers exactly what his goals are without being deceitful. Creating a fake twitter account only brought a negative response to his campaign. However, if he would have created a real twitter account and tweeted about his opinions and the positive changes he wanted to make in Toronto, he may have received a lot of positive feedback and followers via Twitter. After the ghost-tweeting incident, his staff did not portray him in the best light, telling his followers to “get over it.” My recommendation would have been to make a sincere apology, say that they were wrong and try to move on. Fighting back at your followers via twitter will only cause more controversy and in the end will not solve the problem.