Social Media: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

New media, in all its forms, has allowed information to become instantly accessible once broadcast. Major corporations and media giants have embraced new media as a means to reach a global audience to promote products and report breaking news.

The very concept of new media has impacted global economies and shaken the foundation of countries around the world. It is a grand age for communication, however, these breakthroughs in the ability to instantly share digital content come with a price.

This week marketing campaigns have been met with tremendously poor reception while the sports world was plagued with death threats via Twitter. The strength that new media has on the general public is immeasurable. The past few days have reminded us of the severe consequences that instant communication can have.

The list below represents the negative and positive effects social media can have on news, marketing and people, all within some of the week’s top stories.


The Death of Joe Paterno



The Bad: The death of Joe Paterno became something of a biblical event as the “Onward State” Managing Editor Devon Edwards, tweeted that Paterno had died on January 21. You can imagine the world’s confusion when the hospital confirmed that Paterno died on January 22 at 9:25 a.m. EST.

The UglyIt seems Edwards credible sources were not as credible as he would have liked. But before the fact could be checked and corrected, the false information had spread exponentially across various social media platforms. Not long after, major media websites began posting obituaries and statements regarding the passing of Joe Paterno.

This is a perfect example of the risk that all new media journalists take when trying to access breaking news through social media outlets. As information is broadcasted, it can be picked up and distributed instantly, occasionally at the cost of accuracy.

The Good: Almost immediately after Paterno had passed away, the Internet exploded in a barrage of tweets, posts, comments and blog articles honoring the Penn State coach’s legacy.

Not only did new media allow mourning friends, family and supporters to come together as a community, it also acted as a forum to continue the debate that surrounded Paterno’s sexual abuse allegations among Penn State football staff. Blogs, Twitter and Facebook allowed the public to speak openly about a controversial subject without fear of reproach or isolation.


McDonalds Twitter Campaign Fails


The Bad: According to The Huffington Post, it began like this; McDonalds launched a Twitter marketing campaign involving the hashtag “McDStories.” The campaign attempted to reach out to McDonalds’ fans, hoping they would share fond memories of their experiences with the fast food giant.

The Ugly: As expected by the social media community, but probably not McDonalds’, the campaign went terribly awry. The Twitter community responded with tweets about dying inside after eating McDonalds and how the food smells like canned dog food. Needless to say the grand McDonalds marketing experiment had failed.

The Good: Hopefully this tremendous marketing failure will convince corporate execs that social media cannot be used without consideration.

Companies cannot expect that social media audiences will blindly tweet and post about a product they have no fondness for just because they are told to.


49ers Receiver, Kyle Williams, Gets Death Threats Through Twitter


The Bad: In an interview with ESPN Radio, Kyle Williams discussed the death threats he has received since the 49ers lost to the New York Giants in the recent NFC Championship.

The Ugly: Many people felt Williams was responsible for the loss after fumbling the ball, which lead to the receiver being sent numerous death threats against him and his family.

Williams told ESPN Radio that, “Some people cross that line and don’t think twice about it … don’t think that there’s somebody on the other side of that line that may feel that or that may have to respond to that or may have to deal with that.”

Social media has made almost every celebrity and athlete accessible to fans so that they can get feedback and respond to questions or fan mail. However, on the other side of the coin are those looking to threaten or harm.

The Good: The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Williams was receiving support from the social media community in response to the threats. Supporters even went as far as tracking down the author of one especially hate filled tweet and exposed him to the public.

New Media allows the global community to rally around a cause or person offering their support through tweets and posts.

Legendary 49ers defensive back Deion Sander even tweeted Williams saying, “@KyleWilliams_10 Man I’m proud of the great year you’ve had. Don’t allow yesterday’s MOMENT become a MONUMENT! Keep your head up. God bless.”

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