When Mike Webb, conservative candidate for United States Congress in Virginia’s 8th District, decided to screen shot a post from his campaign Facebook page last night, he likely didn’t realize he included several tabs at the top of the screen with links to pornographic sites. In fact, the posts stayed up for a full six hours before being removed. Asked to explain the situation, the campaign first tried to avoid the question before later offering this explanation from the candidate: “Curious by nature, I wanted to test the suggestion that somehow, lurking out in the pornographic world there is some evil operator waiting for the one in a gazillion chance that a candidate for federal office would go to that particular website and thereby be infected with a virus that would cause his or her FEC data file to crash the FEC file application each time that it was loaded on the day of the filing deadline, as well as impact other critical campaign systems”
Some numbers so far:
- 4,037 total mentions
- Mentions peaked between 11:00AM and 12:00PM CT with almost 523 mentions
- Over 3,600 mentions on Twitter alone
Mentions per site showing Twitter as a significant player:
Regardless of how one reacts to his explanation, its hard to imagine that Mr. Webb would have intentionally included the tabs on his post. From the perspective of crisis management in the age of digital, it demonstrates that we are virtually always living in an open world on the web and that the internet has permanency that can cause serious reputational issues. Without going into detail about how Mr. Webb might manage his way out of this predicament, it is safe to say that had he been at least more aware of his social presence and removed the post within minutes instead of hours, it likely would have significantly minimized the damage and the subsequent effort it will take to try to regain credibility and respect. Interestingly enough, much of the online conservation following the episode said he would have been given more benefit of the doubt had he simply admitted to the curious trolling.