Think politicians are bad? Celebrities are the ones causing trouble in social
From Tom Watson’s intern, to Ed Miliband’s “Blackbusters tweet”, to Anthony Weiner’s weiner we are getting increasingly used to political slip-ups in social media. However, it is celebrities we really need to worry about, as they encourage their adoring fans to do all sorts of thins mad, bad, and sometimes outright dangerous things via social networks (usually Twitter).
A couple of recent examples, have highlighted this problem in the US. Firstly, Spike Lee, who has over 250,000 followers on Twitter, weighed into the controversial Trayvon Martin case, retweeting the supposed address of George W. Zimmerman, the man alleged to be involved with the Trayvon Martin death. Unfortunately, this was the address of Elaine and David McClain, who had to flee to a hotel for their own safety, after they received hate mail and found journalists setting up base by their home. Spike Lee has since tweeted:
I Deeply Apologize To The McClain Family For Retweeting Their Address.It Was A Mistake.Please Leave The McClain’s In Peace.Justice In Court
— Spike Lee (@SpikeLee) March 29, 2012
Then, Justine Bieber, a singer who’s fans have a staggering three per cent of Twitter servers dedicated to them, tweeted what he claimed were the first nine digits of his ten digit phone number and said Call me right now.. Cue chaos, as hysterical teenage girls tried to fill in the blank. Unfortunately one of the people that received a huge amount of calls and voicemails from screaming fans was 81 year old Dilcie Fleming, from Dallas. She told MSNBC:
“I answered the phone only because I thought maybe it was a family member. I explained to (to the caller) that it wasn’t Justin’s phone number. I hung up and my phone rang again.”
Apparently the calls are still going one, and Flemming, along with one other victim of the prank, is now consulting with a local attorney.
Bieber and Lee aren’t the only ones to find themselves in trouble over social media though. Chris Brown, Ashton Kutcher, and Alec Baldwin have all lost their tempers with members of the public on Twitter, and who can forget Charline Sheens’ “social media intern” advertisement, which attracted thousands of applications for what was essentially a PR stunt. Furthermore, stars have also scooped their own network PR teams, prompting the BBC to look into banning them from using it to talk about their work.
Kutcher got into trouble after a tweet defending Penn State coach Joe Paterno after Paterno was implicated in a scandal relating to assistant coach Jerry Sandusky’s alleged involvement in molesting children. He tweeted: “How do you fire Jo Pa? #insult #noclass as a hawkeye fan I find it in poor taste”.
He followed that up with: “Heard Joe was fired, fully recant previous tweet!” and “Didn’t have full story. #admitwhenYoumakemistakes.” He has since announced that he would be turning over the management of his Twitter account to his media management firm Katalyst Media.
More than politicians, people feel they have a direct connection to their favourites celebrities, which is enhanced by social media. However, this means that they need to be very careful, as fans respond directly to their requests, and take meltdowns personally too. PR representatives and publicists working with celebrities need to be careful with them so that content is genuine and engaging, but damaging incidents like this don’t keep happening.