Social Networks caused Safdari email controversy

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Social Networks caused Safdari email controversy

Post  Mark Straccia on Mon Apr 20, 2009 1:34 am

On Thursday, there was a controversy created by Muhammad Safdari when he sent an email to a few of his friends about "Pulte's Tactics". In the email he lists five illegal things that Pulte and his campaign supposedly did and called for a meeting at 6 pm at PARC. Safdari's email was a direct violation of the ASG rules because he supporting the McGee campaign and he sent out a smear email not based on any evidence. The email spread through the Northwestern community very quickly and forced ASG to post a statement to the election run-off ballot explaining how Safdari's email was in violations of the rules.

Safdari meant (or so he claims) for the email only to be sent to a few of his friends, however, what happened was his friends sent it to their friends via listserves, who then sent it to their friends over listserves and so on, acting like a disease spreading through a network.

I got the email Thursday night and I can tell how it spread through the network by the history attached to it. Safdari sent it at 10:58 AM and I got the email on 9:25 PM after it passed through 4 people before I got it (making the path length 5). The diameter of the whole Northwestern network is probably shorter than that since of all hundreds of listserves out there (however the email probably didn't spread the most efficient way because it spread only by the small percent of people who thought it was worth while forward it further.) Also each person spread the email a different way, some people sent it over listserves and others just sent it to a few of their close friends.

What is interesting is how the social network of email and listserves caused the issue. Had this been 10 or 20 years ago before everyone had email and internet, this controversy would not have happened. Back then Safdari would have told a few of his friends about it and maybe posted a few fliers in his dorm. Instead because social networks have caused us to be so interconnected, one email to a few friends can spread to reach thousands of people in just a few hours and, as a result, cause a big controversy that tarnishes both campaigns and ruins legitimacy of the winner of the ASG presidential elections.

Mark Straccia

Posts : 37
Join date : 2009-04-01

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