Social media in Toronto’s election: a sampling of blunders

Social media in Toronto’s election: a sampling of blunders

One of the much talked-about aspects of Calgary’s recent election has been how Naheed Nenshi successfully transformed social media, Twitter especially, into a campaign tool. Compare that innovation with how Toronto’s candidates have been using social media, and our mayoral hopefuls do not come out looking great. Yes, all of the major candidates—and most of the minor ones—have been using Twitter and Facebook. But no, it hasn’t mattered a lot. If Web smarts had been a major force in this campaign, we’d all be asking ourselves if prolific tweeter Rocco Rossi was going to be able to close the gap with tweetmaster Himy Syed. (We assume, in that alternate reality as in this one, that neither Rebel Mayor nor Steve Murray would be on the ballot.) Instead, where the election has featured social media, it’s mainly been in ways that the candidates would like to forget. Here, a sampling of social media blunders from the mayor’s race.

The Twitpic that launched 10,000 votes
Oh, the days of January, when people thought Adam Giambrone was going to be the lefty standard-bearer in the election. When city reporters thought to themselves, “Rob Ford? Mayor?” And when a sleeping TTC attendant got the city worked up because of a single photo posted on Twitter. That would be followed up with more photos, videos, and a plea from the TTC to stop threatening its workers with camera phones. What a time it was.

The Re-Tweet that Rob Ford regrets to this day
Every campaign has a slip-up, but it’s rare to see one have such a lasting effect. This one started when, after being criticized for his views on gays and AIDS, one of Ford’s volunteers RT’ed a comment they probably shouldn’t have. In a spasm of damage control, Ford and a Toronto Star reporter met Dieter Doneit-Henderson and, well, things took a turn. Memo to future campaigns: this kind of epic fail is extremely amusing to us, but nobody can guarantee a fundraising bonanza after every scandal.

Does sexting count as social media?
Yeah. That was regrettable.

Great, now you’ve upset the YWCA
Rob Ford dropped out of the YWCA debate earlier this week, but his Twitter account briefly said “Great time at Get Active #Toronto 2010: TownHall on Physical Activity and Healthy Active Living.” (Since deleted from his feed.) OK, so maybe they didn’t get the memo.

Each and every one of Rob Ford’s YouTube videos
We’re not griping about the videos on the subject of Rob Ford—some of which are really funny—or the policies described in clips put out by the campaign. We’re griping about the production values, which were really, really low.

Honourable mention: Where was this feisty Thomson during the election?
Last night, Sarah Thomson RT’ed somebody saying “Every time somebody votes for Rob Ford, ‘god’ kills a kitten… Just sayin,” something we suspect the city would never have seen if Thomson were still a candidate.

(Images: Panalone, Ford,; Smitherman, OldTownGuy)