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Political Hopeful Says Inflammatory Facebook Comments Intended Sarcastically

A local political hopeful is taking heat over what he's calling a 'liberal smear campaign'. It all centers around posts Matthew Ung made on Facebook to a friend. The issue is again drawing attention to the role social media plays in our society and politics.

Republican Matthew Ung is defending what he calls sarcastic statements about Israel and the Jewish community made on Facebook.

It all stems from social media, something most people use on a daily basis.
"Yeah, stupid Jews. Didn't the Holocaust teach them to run farther from Europe than Israel?" Ung said in a Facebook comment.

"They are dumb to not give up when people hate them for who they are," Ung said, in a Facebook comment.

These statements are Facebook posts, made by Matthew Ung, who is running for a seat on the Woodbury County Board of Supervisors.  Ung said those comments are being taken out of context.
"That is, an argument for Hamas and against Israel's right to exist. I responded in sarcasm. That has been taken out of context and maliciously spread around the city by campaign operatives, to be frank. This is something I think is dirty politics," Ung said in an interview with ABC9.

Ung said his comments were meant sarcastically, something he finds particularly upsetting because he's come out in favor of Israel.  He's also written multiple pro Israel articles.
"You put something out there; it's going to be out there. The issue here is, it's taken out of context," he said. He added that he does not expect the comments to affect his campaign.

But others in the community are disagreeing with Ung.

City Councilwoman Rhonda Capron said those in public office and even running for office need to understand that social media is public.
"We need public officials that will treat people with respect and dignity. I didn't see that," Capron said.

But is there really any privacy on social media?  It's a question we posed to a local social media expert.
"Social media is just that, social. So users shouldn't come to expect a lot of privacy with social media," said Thomas Ritchie, social media entrepreneur and CEO of Team Creative Fire.

And many consider public officials to have less access to privacy.
"They also rise to a different standard when they run for office.  And by that, I mean, we're going to question the things that they say in public mediums, like social media. Whether that's with their friends or their networks or just in public on a public forum," Ritchie said.

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