FordScraper

The comments on the Facebook page of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford are, on the whole, positive and congratulatory. And in the wake of ‘Crackgate’ Facebook fans have been posting a plethora of supportive comments:

“Rob. Hang on. you are doing the best job. We love you…Burden is on star to provide proof. There was no video released, so it does not exist. Not even short ten seconds teaser trailer. as to create attention. all this screams from pinkos are unsubstantinated. They have no video, you do not need to explain any further.”

“Mr ford I just want to say I have alot of respect for you and your visions for this great city of ours. Keep up the good work and remember there are alot of people rooting for you.”

NOTE: This piece has since been expanded upon and published for VICE magazine.

But it shouldn’t surprise you that the comments on this Facebook page are screened. For any high-profile politician, online comments are like town hall forums: Both appear to be spontaneous but are actually highly choreographed and any negative comments are systematically deleted from the Mayor’s Facebook wall.

For your benefit I’ve coded a webscraper that scrapes the Mayor’s Facebook several times a day, and checks for what comments are deleted. The results, below, are a ‘live’ stream that is automatically refreshed a couple of times a day.

Between 20-23 May, 27 comments were deleted on the Mayor’s wall.

By 24 May, this has risen to 43.

By 25 May, this has risen to 56.

By 26 May, this has risen to 69.

Some of these comments are out-and-out personal attacks or abusive comments which the Mayor can arguably justify deleting.

But in doing so, isn’t the Mayor projecting an image of overwhelming support that is misleading to the public?