#guncontrol – Viral of the Week

Can social media be used to get someone deported?

Probably not…. but that didn’t stop pro-gun activists from trying.

As Obama formed a gun control commission in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, pro-gun activists took to Facebook and Twitter to protest in a rather unconventional way — calling for the deportation of CNN’s Piers Morgan. The British-born talk show host has taken a hard stance on American gun policy. In particular, conservative radio host, Alex Jones has spoken out against Morgan and has championed an online petition calling for Morgan’s deportation — the petition has received over 100,000 signatures to date.

On Monday, Jones was invited on Piers Morgan Tonight to debate Morgan. The debate was more like an intense rant which lacked concrete facts.  Topics ranged from Hitler to 9/11 conspiracy theories; Jones even called Morgan a “Redcoat”. It quickly went viral, reaching over four million video views in the first 48 hours, with numbers continuing to grow.

The Twitterverse had a field day, with liberals and conservatives alike voicing their opinions. Why did the petition and subsequent debate go viral almost instantly? First, Jones has over 334k followers on YouTube and 150k Twitter followers, so he has a strong social media presence. Furthermore, the people he reaches are influencers in the conservative sphere, and they helped raise awareness for the petition. Additionally, the notoriety of Piers and the explosive nature of the debate generated buzz on social media platforms.

In response, Obama dismissed the petition to deport Morgan, and the White House reiterated that the First Amendment protects citizens’ right to free speech and opinions on public matters.

Jones and gun advocates were able to attract enough attention to surpass the required 25,000 signatures to elicit an official response. This further demonstrates that social media continues to be a strong force in the political sphere. Social media has enabled the American people to have a more direct say in pertinent policies and to capture law makers’ attention. When events such as this petition and debate go viral, they spark conversation and enable anyone to become a social activist.

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