Joel Ford drew controversy on Twitter late Tuesday night when he responded to users with animated GIF images, including the image of a defecating dog. Ford is a Democratic state senator who is also running for Charlotte mayor. Now, his campaign manager says Ford will be restricted in the GIFs he can use in the future.
The defecating dog tweet was sent at 11:13 p.m. Tuesday in response to a series of criticisms from Twitter users @TheMattComer and @WhalerCane. Both users were criticizing Ford's record on LGBT issues. Matt Comer is a self-described LGBT activist and the former editor of QNotes, an LGBT-oriented newspaper.
"Is this serious?" Comer replied. "A state senator who seeks to be my mayor responds to a legitimate criticism via Twitter w/ a GIF/meme of a defecating dog."
Ford's campaign manager, Dakota Cary, confirmed Wednesday the tweets were sent by Ford. Cary said Ford selected the GIF of the defecating dog from the "awkward" section of his "GIF keyboard."
"He used that one," Cary explained, "because he thinks that when people like that come for him on Twitter... it's easier than sitting down and typing out the same response each time."
Asked whether Ford regretted the move and would want a do-over, Cary said yes. "None of the GIFs that we've been using have been well received, and so I think there's a disconnect between trying to use GIFs as a way to communicate with people and what they actually mean," adding, "You end up with a problem like this where what he wants to convey and what comes across (are) two different things."
Cary said the campaign will consider creating a list of pre-approved GIFs for the candidate to use when responding to people on Twitter.
The tweets in question remain posted as of Wednesday morning.
Update: 11:33 a.m. Wednesday, March 15 -- Ford's tweet depicting the defecating dog has been taken down.
Correction: 1:15 p.m. Wednesday, March 15 -- An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Ford sent out the tweets late Wednesday night. The tweets were sent out late Tuesday night. The story has been corrected.