I have several “Friends” in Facebook that have subscribed to one Stephen Colbert group or another. I read this article today and realized that I’m not the only one that is noticing this push to support Colbert. The Presidential Joke isn’t over yet…
From the NY Times:
October 25, 2007, 2:35 pm
Colbert’s Facebook Flock
Stephen Colbert’s presidential candidacy may be phony, but his supporters are very, very real.
On the popular social networking site Facebook, dozens of groups had already called for a “Stewart/Colbert” ticket in 2008, a reference to Mr. Colbert and his Comedy Central colleague Jon Stewart of “The Daily Show.”
Late on Oct. 16, immediately after the comedian declared his intentions on his satirical news show “The Colbert Report,” new groups began to form. One of them — a group created by Raj Vachhani and titled “1,000,000 Strong For Stephen T Colbert” — has grown to include more than 880,000 members in just over a week, making it the most popular political group on Facebook by far.
If Mr. Colbert manages to get on the South Carolina primary ballot, Raj said he would definitely cast a vote for the comedian — if he could. But he is only 16 years old.
Raj, a high school student in Montgomery, Ala., created the group after watching Mr. Colbert’s televised announcement. He said he wanted to approximate the population of Mr. Colbert’s online supporters and find out what other fans thought of the satirist’s candidacy.
He didn’t expect the excitement about Mr. Colbert’s candidacy to place a strain on Facebook’s server capacity. But the sheer volume of group participants — 78 new members per minute for the past eight days — forced the Web site to take the group offline temporarily.
“The group was growing very quickly and began overloading one of our servers, but we have since resolved that problem,” a Facebook spokeswoman confirmed.
In an e-mail interview, Raj expressed disbelief at the group’s explosive growth.
“What amazed me the most was how Obama’s 1 Million Strong Group took more than 8 months to get about 380,000 members; but Colbert’s 1 Million Strong Group took less than a week to get 750,000 members,” he wrote.
Indeed, Raj’s creation appears to be the largest, and fastest-growing, political group on Facebook. “I bet I can find 1,000,000 people who dislike George Bush!” has 549,000 members after five weeks of existence and “Stop Hillary Clinton: (One Million Strong AGAINST Hillary)” counts 500,000 members after eight months online.
Stephen DeMaura, the founder of the Stop Hillary group and the executive director of the New Hampshire Republican Party, commended the founder of the Mr. Colbert group.
“Its explosive success serves to bolster our very point: there is incredible dissatisfaction with the idea of Hillary Clinton as our next President, so much so that young Americans are willing to support a comedian,” Mr. DeMaura wrote in an e-mail.
It stretches the boundaries of imagination to believe that every member of Raj’s group actually backs Mr. Colbert as a political candidate. The group seems to be self-perpetuating, as Facebook users encourage all their friends to join it in the hopes of reaching the one million-member goal. The group’s discussion boards are riddled with thousands of posts about atheism, abortion, Canadians, and “Pink Floyd or Zeppelin.”
But amid the largely adolescent arguing, strands of pure political discourse thrive. Members are debating the merits of Mr. Colbert’s candidacy and questioning whether they should write in his name in on their primary ballots. (Mr. Colbert has said he will only run in the South Carolina primaries, as both a Democrat and a Republican.)
“Youths in the group also seem to be more passionate of political discussion whenever they are approached by it,” Raj wrote.
1,000,000 Strong For Stephen T Colbert” isn’t the biggest Facebook group, at least not yet. Several other groups have a million members — like “The Largest Facebook Group Ever” — but they don’t rally around any particular person or topic.
Mr. Colbert isn’t a candidate in South Carolina yet. But a sparse Web site, Colbert08.org, asks visitors to download a presidential primary petition and obtain the signatures of 20 registered voters in South Carolina to add Mr. Colbert to the ballot. Yesterday ABC News suggested that Comedy Central “could be violating federal laws that bar corporations from backing political campaigns.” But a Comedy Central spokesman told CNN.com that the network believes it is “operating well within federal campaign election laws.”
Whether he runs or not, Mr. Colbert has the kind of grassroots support that the established candidates can only dream of, thanks to Raj and a constantly increasing number of group members. At this rate, the group will reach its one million-member goal by Friday night.
Be sure to read the comments at the end of the article. I can’t believe how many people think he’s really running for office. Get a grip people. It’s just a gag!