A pretty typical election season comment drifted through my Facebook feed the other day: “Just got the shock of seeing how many of my friends ‘like’ Mitt Romney’s page. Wow.” I laughed, made a sarcastic remark on the post, and then read the comments that were fast-accruing below the note.
“I’ve deleted 5 people,” one read. “This is the only place that I have any intolerance. If you like that dude, even just on the Internet, we are enemies. No apologies.”
Turns out just about everyone had more friends who ‘liked’ Mitt Romney than they would have thought.
I did too. I was interested to find how many of my friends ‘liked’ Mitt Romney — it was a relatively small percentage, sure, but I know enough about most of my ‘friends’ to be surprised at those who supported the guy who both invented and wanted to repeal Obamacare. Upon closer inspection, it made a little more sense; a few were writers, following Mitt for journalistic purposes. Then there were the obviously conservative friends, mostly old high school classmates, who’d never been shy about their Mitt-love. But that still left a bunch of Mitt ‘likers’ that were harder to explain — I knew these ‘friends’ were liberal, and yet the ‘like’ was plainly there, for all to see.
It seemed puzzling at the time, but I wasn’t about to start bombarding my acquaintances with questions about their clandestine GOP support because they’d clicked a button on a social media network. Good thing, too. Because it looks like this is a pretty widespread problem; liberals everywhere are finding themselves accidentally ‘liking’ Mitt Romney.
Mother Jones reports that "In recent weeks, a host of liberal types have complained that their Facebook accounts have erroneously “liked” Romney’s page, and some are floating the theory that the Romney campaign has deployed a virus or used other nefarious means to inflate the candidate’s online stature. This conspiratorial notion has spawned a Facebook community forum, and its own page: “Hacked By Mitt Romney” (cute url: facebook.com/MittYouDidntBuildThat)…"
So what’s going on? Is the Romney campaign engaging in some tech wizardry to hijack Americans’ Facebook pages? Seems unlikely, tech wizardry of any kind coming from the not-so-online-savvy campaign, but Romney did somehow manage to acquire millions of fake Twitter followers. And sure, Romney probably feels a bit envious of Obama’s 30 million ‘likers’, seeing as how he only has 8 million. But it looks like the Romney campaign isn’t behind this one — Facebook and its crappy mobile app is.
Mother Jones asked Facebook to look into the issue:
They concluded that users are probably liking the Romney page on a mobile device by either accidentally clicking on a Romney ad or a “sponsored story” from the Romney campaign in their news feed. A Facebook spokesman, who wanted to remain anonymous, said the issue is unique to mobile because of the way the app works on small screens, and rejected the idea that the Romney camp was engaging in clickjacking. He added that the company is currently working to clean up its mobile interface.
In other words, if you’ve ever accidentally fumbled your thumbs over a political story or tapped the wrong ad on your iPhone, you might accidentally ‘like’ Mitt Romney.
But here’s a novel idea; what if those mysterious Mitt-likers were in fact liking his Facebook page to receive updates about his campaign, hear his latest views on current events, and get introduced to his ideas? What if one ‘liked’ both candidates and read their updates in order to make a better-informed decision come November? Nah, wouldn’t happen. Because then all of your friends would see that you ‘liked’ the other guy, and would give you shit for making such a public preference. I would.