Not Sarah Palin's Friends
The Facebook posts Palin doesn't want you to see.
Complaints about her endorsements of so many female candidates. "I am beginning not to like you (Sarah). You have endorsed every women candidate running. You are looking quite biased." (Actually, she's endorsed as many men as women.)
Excessive use of religious prophesy or imagery. "The ones I feel for is one day those in the media that are doing the way they are will come down .you are a threat to them and their evil ways. David only needed 5 stones to bring down the giant. and i belive those five stones had on them five letters JESUS. The road may get hard but one day you will know God gave you that to walk."
There are a host of benign posts deleted from supporters who simply disagreed with the person Palin chose to endorse in a particular note. A typical one addressed her endorsement of Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire for U.S. Senate: "I can't believe Sarah endorsed Ayotte. Ayotte is not a Momma Grizzley, she's just another progressive in Rep. clothing. The 912 group I belong to and some of the other groups in the state are disappointed by this endorsement."
This caused a little stir among the commenters. "Why are the few comments expressing disagreement with this endorsement being deleted?" wrote one. " Just because some of us disagree with the endorsement doesn't mean that we don't follow Sarah Palin." Alfred Petross wrote, "I just wish you would listen to me as a resident of the 3rd Congressional District. All I am doing is voicing my opinion and my posts keep getting deleted...." (These comments were then deleted.) "Having my posts deleted were extremely disappointing," says Petross, who went on to post his letter to Palin on his Facebook page, "because I was under the impression that Sarah Palin was in fact a political activist who was all about hearing the opinions and voices of the constituents of the United States."
Though recent deletions seem heavy on these voices of protest, Palin's screener doesn't take out every voice of dissent. Indeed, the outcry over her endorsement of Carly Fiorina for the U.S. Senate in California prompted Palin to respond to her fans.
My efforts to get some insight from Palin's camp have so far gone unanswered. (Given how prolific Palin has been, and how carefully the posts are screened, they could be too busy.) This leaves us without explanations for some intriguing deletions. "Hey all Sarah fans! Come and 'like' Mike Huckabee on Facebook. Like Sarah, he is a common sense conservative. Sarah and Mike have ideas that will save this great nation." Many posts make innocuous requests that readers support causes or read Web pages. So why was this one about a potential rival for the Republican presidential nomination deleted?
Palin is far more rigorous with her Facebook friends than most other political figures. Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann,* and Scott Brown get the familiar trolls and mischief, but those comments stay on the page. (Over on Rand Paul's page, one poster is wishing cancer on another.) President Obama's page is perhaps the only other one that is so carefully tended. Though when we looked at the deletions on Obama's page, they were less than 1 percent of comments posted and surprisingly rather benign: "We the People are NOT unertaxed...YOU, Mr Obama are spending too much!"
Palin is a polarizing figure, which makes this kind of curation necessary to guard her reputation and keep her from being linked (literally if not figuratively) to anything controversial. There's no reason she should be responsible for the nutty posts on her Facebook page, but that doesn't mean her opponents won't try to put them there and then make her guilty by association. She's also wise to scrub the offensive posts of the kind the Republican National Committee only recently removed. So Palin never allows anything that might be considered mildly controversial.
Political strategists say that it's often hard to talk long-shot candidates out of running for office because they have so many friends and hangers-on telling them they deserve to be president. If that's true, then there's no political strategist alive who could persuade Sarah Palin not to run for president. She has 2 million Facebook friends telling her otherwise.
*Correction, Aug. 3, 2010: This article originally misspelled Michele Bachmann's first name.