The viral power of social media has prevailed with the falling of Egypt and the ensuing chatter of opposing opinions as to the classification of that historical day. For some, a hailed event, for others it was reported as troublesome. What the outside world experienced was the brunt of social media: evidence like photography on TwitPics, YouTube and Facebook, editorial comments on sites like Twitter and Facebook and some video posted on YouTube. The first of the information received by the government was either from these sites or from a few journalists and agents on the ground.
The point to be made is about User Generated Content. To generate content on any social media sites, you need NO expertise. To understand the system and the platforms of technology, one needs education and experience, but to generate the content, one needs an opinion. This means that the user does not have to worry about anything, but putting the content up. Of course, if it is defamatory or derogatory it can be taken down. However, once posted all privacy is vacated.
An extreme case and example is that of Lara Logan, CBS Reporter born in South Africa. The story hit the social media sites first by way of a YouTube video that was eventually taken down by CBS. CBS then took over the news reports. Before the video came down, bloggers knew the horrific event in detail. They literally could tell you how many vaginal rapes, anal rapes, how many young boys participated, what injuries she had and how the woman reacted during the crime and it was all captured on mobile phone – User Generated Content. Lara Logan was violated by crime and violated again by reputation slaughter. Lara Logan had no privacy. Many say she has no right to privacy in the story. You can only really grasp the magnitude of the story and the privacy that might help her heal if you understand the horrendous content placed on the social media sites.
All types of reputation damage occurred. A Wall Street Journal source said Lara Logan was not raped. The YouTube videos were cultural “boasts.” There is even the False Rape Society blogging that Lara Logan was not raped and that the coverage was “overblown.” It was too late for the CBS version of the story to prevail as the whole truth because the bloggers had already reached the video and exposed the magnitude. The political bloggers saw a “cultural” attack on western life. In the horror the crowd chanted, “Jew, Jew, American bitch.” (Her assailants perceived “blond hair and blue eyes” as American and Jewish.) The YouTube video was pieced together from Arab websites. Proponents of the video say that though the crime was horrific, it needs to be shown to demonstrate to the world what the United States is dealing with the Middle East.
The assault on Lara Logan illustrates the potential for social media to cause disorder. There were bloggers who saw the innocent woman as a “blonde haired, blue eyed” sexy woman who knew what she was doing and that she used her beauty to forge into stories and into the hearts of servicemen while on duty. As Lara Logan was near death many social bloggers took sides and one of those sides was to damage Lara Logan’s reputation; their justification was that she needed to be exposed and the opinion on the other side was that the crime needed to be exposed without sugarcoating. There are many times when part of the truth is a lie. Social Media often only tells us “part” of the story.
So here is the lesson and it is BIG! When it comes to your reputation, whether it is good or bad, expect attack! This means that once you give away your privacy, by becoming a public figure or celebrity or by telling your story, you no longer control the facts.
It is not easy for a celebrity to control what is said about them. Miss Logan knows all too well how the truth is disparaged. Lara Logan herself said to Jon Stewart, “If I watched what you watch on the news, I’d blow my brains out.”