The Facebook fan page “Betty White to Host SNL (please?)!,” which was launched in December 2009, garnered more than 500,000 fans. Its goal, to pressure Saturday Night Live producers to let Golden Girls star Betty White host the show, became a reality this past weekend when she hosted the program.
The Facebook page organizing model is garnering so much media attention and political support that it’s now being replicated for political organizing. In March, a page called “MAKING DRUG TEST MANDATORY FOR WELFARE” was started, and in only a few weeks, they have garnered the support of more than 1,020,000 Facebook users — users that support mandatory drug testing as a prerequisite for public assistance programs.
Part of the success of the page may be that it hosts racist jokes and images and not much else. Other than the title of the page, there is no written description of their campaign.
No one on the page mentions that drug testing welfare recipients is a humiliating invasion of privacy. Or that the proposal is unconstitutional: Michigan is the only state to attempt to impose drug testing of welfare recipients — a policy that was struck down as unconstitutional in 2003.
The ACLU found that drug testing welfare recipients as a condition of eligibility is a policy that is “scientifically, fiscally, and constitutionally unsound.” It also further criminalizes something that should be treated as an illness.
According to a 1996 study by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, differences between the proportion of welfare and non-welfare recipients using illegal drugs are statistically insignificant — which is to say, the success of the fan page is based on prejudice about the people who are on public assistance programs.