Public Figures on Social Media

Any person who is considered a public figure tends to be more heavily scrutinized than the average person. When those public figures then go on social media, where there is a very large audience on each network at a given time, all eyes are on them for everything they say. So when Kanye West had a Twitter feud with Jimmy Kimmel, the media had a field day with it. I don’t think it’s possible for anyone with over 1 million Twitter followers (Kanye and Kimmel have 14 million among the two of them) to hide anything from the media, or have any freedom to truly speak their minds without being criticized.

When people have this many fans on social media, any little thing they say can be blown out of proportion. Even who they follow, or don’t follow on Twitter can cause an uproar. It can cause rumors to be spread and false information to be published all over the internet. Paparazzi might be packed so tightly around their homes or any restaurants that it’s difficult for these people to go anywhere. The commercial implications of the rumored feud between Ariana Grande and Jennette McCurdy also leaked into their personal lives, with rumors about the two not being paid equally on their show Sam & Cat and the question of who really leaked McCurdy’s racy photos. All this because McCurdy posted a few cryptic messages on Twitter about a former friend being “a leech”.

If I were the social media manager of a public figure, which I am to an extent, I would enourage them to run everything they want to publish on social media through me first. If I’m being paid to post and moderate their social media accounts for them, I need to be able to also give them advice on what is or is not a good idea to say. The beauty of social media is that you can think and craft a perfect response to someone without them seeing the “first draft” of what you really wanted to say. If a public figure has a social media manager, my advice to them would be to bounce ideas off that person instead of posting on instinct. It may be entertaining for the audience to see an unedited rant, but for the public figure, it could ruin his or her reputation.

The golden rule for broadcasters mentioned in this final lecture of the semester was “if you wouldn’t say it on air, do not tweet it.” This can certainly be applied to my future brand of critic. I am blunt and brutally honest most times. I’m hoping my brand will grow big enough that I am in public figure status one day. I would never say anything in any of my blog posts that I wouldn’t want to post on social media. I own up to every critique I make and I will make sure that whatever I say does not reflect poorly on myself or on any public figure I may critique.

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Ethical Implications of Graphic Images

The Boston Bombings brought along many images of people who were either killed or seriously injured in the blasts. Many of these images were placed in online articles with a disclaimer that these images were graphic and people should look at their own risk. But when it comes to social media, there sometimes is no disclaimer. Even if there is a warning in the text of the post, often times the audience scrolls to the image before they have a chance to read the warning. I honestly don’t see anything good that can come from posting graphic photos from the Boston Bombings on social media.

Images that end up in various news feeds don’t have age filters on them. Even if a teen is old enough to have Facebook or Twitter,  they may not be mature enough to handle images of death or gruesome injuries. Obviously I don’t think the teens would be seeking out images of this nature, so I believe it is the responsibility of the person who is posting them to consider all the ways that it could upset the audience if he or she did post them.

As I mentioned, instead of posting the image directly to social media, they could post the article with the disclaimer, to give people a choice of whether they want to see the images or not. This could not only shield minors from viewing the images, but it would protect friends and family members of the victims from having to involuntarily see images that might bring back painful memories. Finally, if members of the audience have an uneasy stomach or can’t handle any type of blood or gore, the wall of the link would shield them from the potential of getting sick.

If someone were to post graphic images from the Boston Bombings on social media for everyone to see, some could view that as the person wanting attention or trying to shock the audience rather than doing something good. With a tragedy so widely publicized as this, people understand the extent of the damage without having to see it on social media. If people wanted to donate their time or blood to help victims, they could do that without a graphic image persuading them.

Finally, if a victim of the tragedy was injured and one of their photos was put on social media without their permission, there could be serious ethical concerns. Personal privacy vs. public interest would certainly be one of the main arguments. The victim may not want to be remembered forever as “the person who survived the Boston Bombings” and wouldn’t want to be looked on with pity for the rest of his or her life. If their photo was placed on social media and went viral, there’s a good chance that the person would never be able to break their public association with the event.