Behind the Gabrielle Giffords Prayers Page on Facebookby Carli Brosseau on Jan. 11, 2011, under breaking news, commentary, Facebook, news, social media
As of now, the Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords Prayers Page on Facebook is liked by almost 28,000 people. That’s 28,000 people, I’m told by the administrator, from all over the world and all political persuasions. The administrator knows this because he monitors the stats, but also because he, himself, is not a Democrat. Jason Asselin identifies as Republican and associates himself with the Tea Party. He volunteered for the campaign of Tea Party-backed Rep. Dan Benishek, who was elected to the seat earlier held by Bart Stupak. Asselin lives in Iron Mountain, Michigan, but when he heard the news that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords had been shot, he immediately thought: “That could have been him (referring to Benishek). That could have been anyone.” He immediately started to Facebook memorial page because at the time, within half an hour of the shots ringing out, it was being reported that Giffords had been killed. “When I heard she had not been killed, I quickly changed it to a prayers page,” he said.
Asselin is passionate that political bickering ought to be thrown out at times like these. “Our positions political don’t matter right now,” he said. “We need to come together as America.” He said that the motto emerging out of the 9/11 tragedy stuck with him. “United we stand, divided we fall: I try to live by that every day.” Despite Asselin’s willingness to put aside political ideology in the name of empathy, the Facebook page has been evidence that not all share his perspective. He said his ability to post updates to the page has been taken away, leaving him only able to delete comments and comment on them, and he believes the change is the result of objections from people who think he is trying to use the page to further his political views. “It’s really upsetting,” he said, describing how he has painstakingly read and moderated each comment on the page and deleted those that violate his sense of decency. “I banned like 50 people today,” he said.
Though Asselin has posted text on the site that says he can’t update it and he’s reached out to reporters, at least this one, via email, he said he hasn’t turned to Facebook for help. “I’ve been told that to Facebook you don’t exist and you can’t get a hold of them,” he said. “I’m willing to hand the site over to family if that means they can update it.”
Asselin is also a prolific creator of YouTube videos.
What do you think?