Do People Truly Understand the Impact of Their Words on Social Media?

The Comedy Central announced yesterday that Trevor Noah will replace Jon Stewart as the host of The Daily Show.  Almost immediately following the announcement, people on social media criticized the move based on Trevor Noah’s tweets from five years ago that made fun of Jews.  The South African-born comic wrote:

There are other Trevor Noah tweets about sexual content and women that most would agree are also in poor taste.  Unfortunately, this has become a growing trend on social media.  People post inappropriate content on social media platforms and face major backlash as a result.  Joey Casselberry, a first baseman for the Bloomsburg University baseball team, recently learned the consequences of social media.  Casselberry tweeted about the Disney Channel’s decision to make a movie on Mo’ne Davis, the star female pitcher of the Little League World Series.  He wrote, “Disney is making a move about Mo’ne Davis? WHAT A JOKE. That **** got rocked by Nevada.”  As a result of his tweet, Bloomsbury dismissed Casselberry from the baseball team.  If you think this punishment was harsh, consider what Justine Sacco endured.

Justine Sacco was the senior director of corporate communications at IAC before she boarded a flight from New York to South Africa.  During one of the legs on her trip, Justine wrote a very regretful tweet:  “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!”  She then turned off her phone for the 11 hour flight thinking nothing of her tweet.   However, her tweet quickly spread on Twitter and the anger spread.  IAC fired her during the flight, unbeknown to Justine, and users started the hashtag #HasJustineLandedYet.  Ever since then, her career has been defined by that one moment.

I believe people do not understand the impact of their words on social media yet.  People write things without thinking of the possible effects.  We must realize the importance of our digital presence and how everything we say is a reflection of us.  Personally, I try to stay away from controversial topics in case I say something that my employer sees.  For example, Fordham recently fired our men’s basketball head coach, Tom Pecora, and hired a new coach today, Jeff Neubauer.  This was a sensitive topic around Fordham.  As a member of Fordham Athletic Department’s payroll, I stayed away from commenting on the basketball coaching position on social media.  I enjoy working Fordham Athletic events and would hate for this opportunity to end because of a dumb tweet.

My questions are:

1) Do you consider the potential backlash of what you write on Twitter?

2) How much “substance” to you place into things posted on social media?  Are these reactions justified or unjustified?



One thought on “Do People Truly Understand the Impact of Their Words on Social Media?

  1. I do consider the backlash of what I write on Twitter or any social for that matter as it is not so easy to erase something once you put it out there. The consequences are too great to be ignored, whether that might be a potential future employer, family or friends, you will be judged for it in one way or another. I know plenty of people that certainly do not think before they write or comment and it is a shame.

    As far as how much weight I put into these types of things, I honestly don’t care all that much to be honest. However, posting something without putting any thought behind it just sets you up and gives ammo to people you don’t want to have anything to use against you. People are much too quick to pull the trigger and hit enter before thinking in this day and age, and I’m cognizant of that fact and this is how I justify personally not putting much weight in it.

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