Oversharing on Social Media

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If you were plugged into social media on Friday, you would have witnessed the tweet heard around the world. Justine Sacco, an ex-PR executive who worked for the company IAC that owns sites like CollegeHumor, Match.com, OKCupid and Vimeo, sent out an offensive tweet about AIDS and race that went viral while she was on a 12 hour flight to South Africa to visit family.

Here is the original tweet:

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Sacco was the head of corporate communications for IAC. Her job revolved around communicating with reporters which made her tweet all the more shocking. While she flew through the air, she was oblivious to the mayhem caused by her tweet. Thousands of people were pissed off and took to social media to express their anger and frustration. Her Twitter account wasn’t even on the map when she posted that tweet. Websites such as Valleywag and BuzzFeed highlighted her account and soon she had thousands of followers and thousands of hard replies. After Justine landed, she rapidly deleted the offensive tweet, and then her account.

The most positive thing to come out of this whole thing? Some savvy genius at @AidForAfrica registered the domain name forJustinSacco.com and set it up to the accept donations for the anti-AIDS charity. one of the sites read, “The AIDS epidemic is bigger than a tweet from a person in PR. If we want real change, we need to think beyond Justine. Let’s turn that anger into something tangible.”

Do you all remember Alicia Ann Lynch from a few months ago? Lynch also provoked the wrath of social media users after tweeting and Instagramming an offensive photo of herself as a Boston Marathon bombing victim to an office party for Halloween. She also lost her job over a tweet.

Lynch posted a photo of herself in costume on her Twitter account @SomeSKANKinMI (which has since been deactivated) and almost immediately the backlash ensued, even including angry commenters publishing nude photos of her online, finding and exposing her driver’s license and threatening her family and friends.

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Both Lynch and Sacco issued formal apologies, but their respective tweets cost them their jobs, their peace of mind and their future.

So why is it that we overshare? The number one reason is that it’s satisfying. One Harvard University study found that talking about yourself provided the same kind of intrinsic value as food and sex. 6% of people confess to being constant complainers and another 3% admit to posting explicit photos online. Another reason for oversharing is that we’re excited. A University of Pennsylvania study shows that individuals in a heightened emotional state were more likely to share with other people than their more mellow counterparts.

How well do you really know what is being posted for you on social media on behalf of your company or by those representing you? Offensive tweets or Facebook posts could pop up at any time if your social media is not being handled by professionals who know what to post and when. If you need help monitoring what gets posted on behalf of your company, contact us!

What are your thoughts about Alicia Ann lynch and her costume, or about Justin Sacco and her racist, offensive tweet? Did the ladies get what they deserved? Let me know in the comments section or tweet me directly at @YuppItsDebbie.

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