The Daily Gamecock

Facebook strategy draws controversy

SG candidate defends thousands of requests


Attempting to draw support in the race for student body president, third-year history student James Strickland sent friend requests to thousands of Carolina students.

Late Monday night, a few of the students acquainted themselves with Strickland a little better by posting satirical comments to his wall.

“Thanks to all who have helped us in our campaign against Facebook campaigning!” wrote second-year geology student Ethan Lane after a barrage of comments from his friends.

Using Facebook and Twitter has long been accepted in student body elections, and every executive candidate has a page. But Strickland did something unusual: He sent requests to many he has never met.

According to Strickland, who currently has over 2,000 Facebook friends, adding USC students was a campaign strategy to keep the campus updated on his events. The candidate said he stands by his decision and has received personal Facebook messages from various students in support of his campaign.

“I was surprised and kind of disturbed by the posts,”Strickland said. “ ... People have the right to do what they do, and I still think it was a good idea.”

Fourth-year international business and finance student Robert Knox wrote Monday night, “What’s your stance on the Chinese economy? How will it affect textbook prices here?”

Knox said he posted his comments in jest and not in support of another candidate or with the intention of being harmful.

“I was kind of wondering who this guy was. I don’t really care about the election, and I kind of thought it was interesting to add all of those people,” said Knox. “I had a lot of people texting me who thought it was funny. People poke fun at politicians all the time. This isn’t different.”

Lane said he was originally annoyed with Strickland’s excessive status updates and didn’t think it was a good campaign strategy. When Lane and his friends all received friend requests at the beginning of the semester, he realized Strickland’s strategy and humorously commented on his status.

“I didn’t want people to be swayed by what he was posting, but look at his platform. I’m not taking a stance on any particular campaign, just making a point,” he said. “We asked a lot of people to blow up his wall. It wasn’t a personal attack at all.”

Strickland said he does not plan on deleting any wall posts yet.

He found support from SG veteran and fourth-year chemical engineering student Emily Berger.

“James, I would like to apologize for the disrespect issued on [your] Facebook wall last night,” Berger wrote on Strickland’s Facebook. “Anyone willing to serve their peers should not be treated this way.”