Friday, July 29, 2011

The good bad and ugly of social media

The bad:
A popular DJ known as Kaskade who may have encouraged uninvited fans to converge on Hollywood on Wednesday night had visions of a grand entrance to the "Electric Daisy Carnival Experience" film premiere.
But Kaskade, one of the film's stars, appears to have underestimated his popularity.

About 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Kaskade tweeted to his 92,000 Twitter followers that he was heading to Grauman's Chinese Theatre for a block party: "ME+BIG SPEAKERS+MUSIC=BLOCK PARTY!!!"

But as people began showing up, Duddie said it became clear that "a crisis was headed our way."

"I walked out and saw a flatbed truck with an over-the-top sound system just blasting, and it became evident after a minute that this would create quite a scene -- just the magnetic effect of that sound system and Kaskade rolling down Hollywood Boulevard," Duddie said. "In two minutes there were 100 people, in three minutes there were 1,000 people, and by the time he got to the corner of Hollywood and Highland there were 3,000 people around me. Cars couldn't go anywhere."

Instead of continuing down Hollywood Boulevard, they turned onto Highland Avenue, Duddie said.
"Another 1,000 kids ran down the street at top speed -- right down the middle of the street with traffic coming at them. It grew out of control," Duddie said.

The chaos prompted police to respond in riot gear.

The good:
China’s two major Twitter-like microblogs — called weibos here — have posted an astounding 26 million messages on the tragedy, including some that have forced embarrassed officials to reverse themselves. The messages are a potent amalgam of contempt for railway authorities, suspicion of government explanations and shoe-leather journalism by citizens and professionals alike.

The swift and comprehensive blogs on the train accident stood this week in stark contrast to the stonewalling of the Railways Ministry, already stained by a bribery scandal. And they are a humbling example for the Communist Party news outlets and state television, whose blinkered coverage of rescued babies only belatedly gave way to careful reports on the public’s discontent.

But the ugly?
Social media can easily turn sparks into prairie fires .. rumors, innuendos. Is this our future?

An old, false photo recirculated that suggested a McDonald’s corporate policy discriminatory to African-American customers. The photo spread like wildfire. People took to Twitter, outraged; “Seriously McDonalds” was a trending topic on Twitter on Sunday and into Monday, and McDonalds’ social media team was pressed into emergency service trying to put out the fire. The hoax gained legs despite the utter implausibility of such a policy being adopted by any company operating in the United States, for legal if not moral reasons. Unfortunately, in the social networking and internet era, facts and rational logic do not inoculate businesses from rumors, hoaxes and smear attacks. Brands like Target, Starbucks, Pepsi, and Hershey have also found themselves in the past few years fighting internet rumors that seem incredible yet still find an audience within social networks willing to believe the worst about business in general and corporations in particular.

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