Sarah Palin's Crosshairs Come Under Fire On Facebook

Status updates go up about once every second addressing Saturday's shooting in Arizona, and whether Sarah Palin had any influence upon it.

After Saturday’s shocking shooting in Tucson, millions of people turned to Facebook to discuss what happened and share their reactions, and even now status updates addressing the issue go up at least once every second. Sarah Palin became part of the controvery because of her “rifle-sight” maps against Democrats, which were available on her Facebook profile until her staff pulled the content shortly after the tragedy occurred.In an interview with ABC News yesterday, Facebook’s marketing director Randi Zuckerberg discussed how people used Facebook to react and talk about the shooting outside of a Safeway store in Tucson last Saturday, when a gunman shot 20 people, killed six, and left Democratic Representative Gabrielle Giffords badly injured in the middle of her public meeting with constituents.

Within 12 hours after the shooting, about 3 million people had mentioned State Representative Gabrielle Giffords in their profile status in some capacity, while about 2 million mentioned “Tucson” or “Arizona.” These were big numbers even by Facebook standards, indicating that the news “touched a chord” with the American public. These numbers are probably significantly below the actual figures, given than Facebook can only take public status updates into consideration (only users who explicitly let anyone see their wall posts can be counted).

As for what the trending topics on Facebook were during the weekend, it wasn’t Giffords who took the top spot, but Sarah Palin, with “hundreds of thousands” of Facebook users asking: “Is Sarah Palin to blame (for Tucson tragedy)?”

It is the political implications behind the shooting that has drawn attention to a map Sarah Palin posted on her website and her Facebook page about a year ago, which literally “targeted” 20 House Democrats who despite belonging to districts where Republicans had won, they had voted in favor of the new health care bill. Giffords was one of those. Here is a look at the map, via FireDogLake:

The controversy is not, of course, whether Palin is directly linked to the shooting or if she condoned it, but rather if she has contributed to the feeling of polarization and violent speech that is becoming more and more common in the political landscape as of late. Sarah Palin turned to Facebook as well to state her condolences to Giffords and the rest of the victims of the attack.

Other “trending” topics this past weekend, according to Zuckerberg, were whether we should put more resources “towards mental health” in this country (the gunman is supposed to have had a history of mental illness), and if “heated issues like immigration contribute [the Tucson] event.”

You can watch Zuckerberg discussing Facebook users’ reactions surrounding the tragedy here.