Facebook Steps Into Arizona Immigration Debate

Facebook sent out the Facebook Ads newsletter yesterday, which includes a section for “success stories from advertisers.” This month, the focus is on the Arizona Office of Tourism and its Arizona Travel Facebook Page.

When you admin a Facebook Page, you can choose what Tab is used as the primary, or initial, page that visitors see. For most Pages, its the Wall. Sometimes, its a custom Tab with a specific promotion. In the case of Arizona Travel, its the Discussions Tab.

The Arizona Travel Discussions Tab has 13 discussions and over 2,000 comments. As you might expect considering the immigration legislation in Arizona, the discussions have devolved into flame-throwing, name-calling and highly-partisan arguments.

Just take a look at the discussion maturely titled “Conquering the evil terrorist boycotters” to get a sense of it.

Furthermore, Arizona Travel has a Rules of Engagement Tab which states the following are “not appropriate” and that they “reserve the right to remove any comments at any time, for any reason…but we hope that won’t ever be necessary!”

  • Those that advertise a business that does not serve the Arizona tourism market (i.e. printers, dry cleaners, out of state businesses, dog groomers, vehicle repair, etc).
  • Those that are politically driven, such as those that link to any elected official or candidate’s page or website or those in regards to any specific political cause or legislation. ***Regardless of point of view.***
  • Those that do not show proper consideration for others’ privacy.
  • Those that are considered likely to offend or provoke others.

So, Arizona Travel saw this coming, prepared a bit of language to “address” it, and has done nothing to actually enforce it, creating brand-damaging content that appears to be condoned and authorized. Crazy.

From a PR or reputation management angle, a few questions arise.

  • Why would Arizona Travel want to highlight this ugly partisan immigration debate on what is supposedly a pro-tourist travel site by setting the Discussions Tab as the primary destination?
  • Why doesn’t Arizona Travel have anyone moderating the discussions?
  • Why would Facebook actively promote a site that is facilitating and highlighting such coarse, unhelpful and partisan “discussions”?

This is a prime example of what happens when a social media strategy is not entirely thought through. It can damage a brand and create a damage control situation.


  1. That is awesome. It feels like the person assigned to this job really isn’t interested in it. Whether in civil service or simply not devoted to it, I’d imagine it’s a “meh, it’s not worth the trouble” attitude that a government might be able to maintain, but an actual business would die by.

  2. Hi Michael – you’re probably right, but quite often a government entity will outsource a campaign like this to a third-party vendor. Usually its a PR or marketing company with social media “expertise.” Either way, this campaign of theirs needs to get buttoned up. And why would FB pick them out of thousands upon thousands of potential case studies?

  3. Any press is good press? There is nothing better than coarse, righteous, heated discussion for attracting masses of people.

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