The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission found itself in a Facebook fracas for several days this week, as an account bearing the commission’s name, but run by a local blogger, turned into a forum for opinions, and ginned up accusations from some that the IRC was using it for political purposes.
A few weeks ago, liberal blogger Steve Muratore registered a Facebook page in the IRC’s name. He said he did so to provide a “placeholder” and in order to prevent anyone else from registering the name and using it as a forum to attack the IRC.
Ray Bladine, the commission’s executive director, said the Facebook account has since been surrendered to the actual IRC. Although Muratore had been posting updates to the page, Bladine said it will not be updated until the commission gets a public information officer who knows how to handle it.
The page hadn’t garnered any attention until earlier this week, when the IRC cancelled a meeting that was tentatively scheduled for today and conservatives began posting to the page.
But the comments weren’t benign. Muratore described them as coming from “tea party people,” and said some were offensive.
Muratore responded to some of the comments, questioning why people were upset the meeting had been cancelled, defended the commission’s action and told people the page was not to be used to “disrupt the process” - but not from his own personal account. Instead, he replied from the account with the name “Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission.”
Late Tuesday, Muratore posted to the page, from his personal account, that the account management had been transferred to the commission. He said he had previously posted somewhere on the account that he had been managing it, but could not find that post Wednesday.
Late Wednesday, the commission had the entire wall erased and replaced with a message describing how the commission will deploy a more complete Facebook account, with interactivity, once a public information officer has been hired.
Muratore said he now regrets allowing public comments on the page.
Here’s a screenshot of what it looked like Wednesday, around noon.
Here’s what it looked like after about 5 p.m. Wednesday.