LA PLATA, Md. - There was fury on Facebook after a mayor in Maryland called for a Nike boycott over the company’s new advertising campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick. However, her explanation for her Facebook post managed to make people even angrier.
La Plata Mayor Jeannine James claims she didn’t mean what she wrote and it was just part of a social experiment she was doing for a college class she teaches at the College of Southern Maryland.
The post on James’ personal Facebook page read: “Nike selected Colin Kaepernick as the new face of the company’s ‘Just Do It’ campaign. How disappointing. #BoycottNike.”
After hundreds of comments, with people arguing with each other and condemning James, she removed the post and put up a statement thanking people for participating in her “lively social experiment.” She explained the purpose was to show how a social media post can go viral and that she was not calling for a boycott of any business.
James told FOX 5 she didn’t feel she was speaking as the mayor since she posted on her personal page.
“I am sorry that it may have been misconstrued that it came from the mayor," said James. "It didn’t."
FOX 5 asked why she would not have her students analyze social media posts by others and why she would want to contribute to anger on social media.
“Because it was for the betterment of my students," she said. "My students need to see the full effects of what social media can do.”
On Facebook, many did not believe James’ explanation. Others questioned why the mayor would use her constituents in such an experiment.
One woman wrote, “The damage is already done. You divided La Plata and had your community attacking each other for a 'social experiment.' You don’t manipulate people in that way.”
When asked if the person had a point, James responded, “Sure, they have a point. That is their perception.”
Despite the outage, James said she would do it all again. She said her class needs this lesson in the power of social media.
"One of the things that I always teach my students is 'Say it, forget it, write it, regret it,'" said James. "When it’s in print or in the media, it can always be found."
When asked if she regretted what she had done, she replied, “Absolutely not.”
James said her students will be analyzing her Facebook post for an assignment in two months.
The College of Southern Maryland said in a statement to FOX 5:
"While the College of Southern Maryland is committed to fostering a learning environment where free inquiry and expression are encouraged, the college does not support the execution of this assignment and will address this with the specific instructor.
"College assignments are meant to encourage analytical thought and informed dialogue, however we expect that people engaged in expressive activities will demonstrate civility or respect. We do not condone negative characterizations about specific people nor do we condone comments that suggest bias or discrimination."