You Can See Mitt Romney's Facebook Fan Count Drop Every Time You Hit "Refresh"

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Nov. 12 2012 10:17 AM

Watch Mitt Romney's Facebook Fan Count Drop Every Time You Hit "Refresh"

Mitt Romney's Facebook fan page
Mitt Romney had 12.04 million "likes" when I took this screenshot. How many will he have by the time you read this?

Screenshot / Facebook

Some fair-minded commentators believe liberal schadenfreude at Mitt Romney's election defeat needs to stop. But for those who still haven't quite had their fill, here's a fresh way to soak in the candidate's impending decline into irrelevance: Go to Romney's Facebook page, look at the number of "likes" below his name, and then hit "refresh" on your browser. How many did he lose in the few seconds it took you to complete that operation?

The Washington Post's Caitlin Dewey calculated on Friday that the erstwhile candidate was shedding Facebook fans at a clip of 593 per hour. Or nearly 10 per minute. Or one every six seconds. Or... you get the idea. By the time Mashable wrote about the phenomenon on Saturday, that number was up to 847 per hour. I didn't get all scientific about it when I checked Romney's page this morning, but suffice it to say the exodus is not abating. Facebookers are jumping off the Romney bandwagon faster than you can say "MySpace."

Feel free to contrast that with Barack Obama's Facebook page, which recently notched the most-liked status update of all time and is coming up on three times as many followers as his former rival. More surprisingly, even Romney's fellow losers in last week's election seem to be gaining Facebook fans at the same time he's losing them. Dewey noted that Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein have seen increases in their follower counts since Nov. 6. That suggests that a lot of people aren't just unfollowing Romney because he lost. They're removing him from their list of "likes" out of disappointment or spite—or, perhaps, because "liking" Romney just isn't cool anymore.

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Romney surely isn't unique in his sudden decline in popularity. No doubt John Kerry would have seen a similar abandon-ship effect on his fan page following his defeat in 2004, if such a thing had existed back then. (The equivalent might have been the sudden disappearance of Kerry/Edwards stickers from the nation's car bumpers.) Like Romney, he was a candidate who seemed to be tolerated more than beloved by his party faithful. But at least Kerry remained active in the Senate. What will Romney do for his next act? Whatever it is, it's a good bet that he'll bring fewer than his current 12 million Facebook fans along for the ride.

UPDATE, 12:20 p.m.: And now there's this: http://disappearingromney.com/. Thanks to reader M Davidson for the tip.

Disappearing Romney website
A website that lets you watch Romney lose followers in real time.

Screenshot / disappearingromney.com

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Will Oremus is Slate's senior technology writer.

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