The power of public opinion is an astounding thing, and it’s something I never get tired of reading about – especially when it works hand in hand with social media.
It all started last week with the comment heard round the ‘Net.
Political radio host and notorious blowhard Rush Limbaugh attacked a Georgetown University law student, calling her a “slut” and a “prostitute”, in reaction to her testimony before Congress. The student, Sandra Fluke, was testifying in support of health care policies that would compel employers to offer group health insurance that covers birth control.
Rush, presumably unaware of the irony that his own insurance supported his painkiller addiction for years, declared that all women who want their birth control covered by insurance should tape themselves having sex and post it online. Classy!
Upon hearing about Rush’s personal and despicable attacks on Ms. Fluke, thousands of enraged individuals (like myself) immediately flocked to an outlet where they could quickly show their displeasure and anger – social networking sites.
Twitter, predictably, was all a-flutter. A 35-year-old Army officer from Fort Hood, Texas named Jessica Scott took to Twitter to express her anger and created a Trending Topic with the hashtag - #iamnotaslut:
Led by Huffington Post blogger Krystal Ball, the Twitterverse rallied around the hashtag #BoycottRush. Two Facebook pages were created calling for a boycott, and as of Monday night they boast more than 28,000 and 12,000 Likes.
Yahoo! News did a great analysis of the real-time discussions that occurred on the social networking sites during the first hours of the controversy.
The expressions of outrage were not limited to Facebook and Twitter. Reddit user jaybercrow posted and continually updated a list of companies that sponsor(ed) Rush’s show. He also encouraged Reddit users to directly contact the advertisers and ask that they end their relationships with the show.
According to the Associated Press, more than a half-dozen sponsors have pulled their ads off of Limbaugh’s show as of today, a list that includes AOL, ProFlowers, Quicken Loans, Sleep Train and Sleep Number, Citrix Systems, Carbonite, and LegalZoom.
Each advertiser cited numerous and vocal opposition to Rush’s behavior on their social networking sites – predominantly Facebook pages and Twitter feeds – in making their ultimate decision to pull from the show.
Several of the advertisers directly addressed their social networking communities to express their opposition to Rush’s comments.
- ProFlowers posted Sunday on its Facebook page: “Mr. Limbaugh’s recent comments went beyond political discourse to a personal attack and do not reflect our values as a company. As such, ProFlowers has suspended advertising on The Rush Limbaugh Show radio program.”
- AOL addressed its inflamed online community on its Facebook page: ”At AOL one of our core values is that we act with integrity. We have monitored the unfolding events and have determined that Mr. Limbaugh’s comments are not in line with our values. As a result we have made the decision to suspend advertising on The Rush Limbaugh Radio Show.”
- David Friend, Carbonite CEO, wrote on Carbonite’s blog: “No one with daughters the age of Sandra Fluke, and I have two, could possibly abide the insult and abuse heaped upon this courageous and well-intentioned young lady. Mr. Limbaugh, with his highly personal attacks on Miss Fluke, overstepped any reasonable bounds of decency. Even though Mr. Limbaugh has now issued an apology, we have nonetheless decided to withdraw our advertising from his show.”
P.S. As of Monday night and since the “controversy” started, Rush only gained 7,000 followers on Twitter as opposed to Sandra Fluke’s 28,000 (she had just started tweeting on Feb 17). If that doesn’t say it all, then I’m not sure what does!
Have you taken to the interwebs to defend or deplore Rush Limbaugh? Do you have anything that you would like to add? Please post in the Comments section or email Julia@jcsocialmarketing.com – Thanks for reading!