The lecture for this week was titled “Broadcasters Behaving Badly,” and what I liked about it was that it was a look at public figures in broadcasting/entertainment who seemed to have under-appreciated just how much they were broadcasting/remaining in the public eye while using social media. I tend to agree with James Franco in that “social media is tricky” and as a culture, we are all still working on the learning curve associated with social media and understanding what is appropriate for social media and what is not. The unfortunate thing for people in the public eye is that they have to learn this lesson with a huge amount of people watching.
Now, I am not saying that all celebrities that send inappropriate Tweets are victims to the social media monster. Hardly. Rihanna should have known that her #FreePalestine tweet would lead to trouble. It’s just too sensitive an issue. Huey Morgan, on the other hand, I don’t think was too out of line with his social media posts. He may have created an uncomfortable working environment, sure, but the opinions he shared were his own and it’s not like he got super specific with his tweets. I really like the advice that the lecture gave in that “If you wouldn’t say it on the air, don’t tweet it.” I think this is good advice that takes into account the already established personality from the tweeter. For example, I would be less surprised to see Kanye West call Jimmy Kimmel ugly on Twitter than I would if the pope called someone ugly on Twitter. Now, that’s a pretty extreme example, sure, but the point is that this advice allows the person to perpetuate their already established personality on social media.
This raises the question though: can a public figure have freedom on social media? Unfortunately, I think the answer here is NO, but it is not the fault of the celebrity. The problem is that as a figure becomes more public, they also become more susceptible to the sensitivity of their public. We (Americans) have become very sensitive anymore and anything tweeted can even make its way to court where the “victim” is demanding reparations for being exposed to the mean opinions of others. I actually have seen this with a musician I have watched evolve into the public eye. I have noticed a vast difference in the way he Tweets now, compared to when he was less popular and he has told us it is because he does not want to ruin potential deals with people paying him for his creative output. So, yes, celebrities should have freedom on social media, but unfortunately, that freedom comes with a lot of responsibility.
If I were managing a figure like this, I think I would just try to warn them. While I can’t see myself ever favoring censoring someone, I do think that if they were aware of the hassle that they can potentially create with 140 characters, they might be less likely to tweet inappropriately.