Do the several thousands of students who gathered at George Mason University Friday for a speech by Barack Obama testify to "the potential power of online communities in the 2008 campaign"? That's how the Washington Post put it after watching an enormous crowd of college students--organized partly via Facebook.com--go so wild over Obama that even he seemed caught off guard. "Are you guys all waiting for the basketball game, or, uh...?" he asked.
The group Students for Barack Obama, which helped organize the rally, was born on Facebook. As of this morning, the group claimed an impressive 56,129 members--but don't let the number fool you, say the students at Bowdoin College who helped found the community but have since resigned, citing "ethical and leadership questions". "Mainstream media should not be so impressed," the student who was formerly the group's communications director told the Orient. "All the number of members of the group indicates is the attractiveness of the candidate. That's the danger of Facebook." The group's executive director, whom Obama praised and patted on the back Friday, defended Facebook, calling it "a great gateway."
Watch video of the rally here.
PHOTO: WIN MCNAMEE--GETTY IMAGES
U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) greets supporters during a rally at George Mason University February 2, 2007 in Fairfax, Virginia. Obama is expected to announce his candidacy for the presidency of the United States by February 10.