Online Self-sabotage – the Powers and Repercussions of Social Media

It was only recently that Communication Director, Justine Sacco was an exemplar of the powers of social media and self-defamation. The (then) successful PR profession for New York based communication empire, InterActive Corp made a tweet that connected race with AIDS before boarding a flight from the US to South Africa.

Justine Sacco - Tweet

Whilst in the air, Sacco caused a Twitter and media revolt – having being retweeted over 3,000 times as well as media outlets picking up her tweet. By the time Sacco reached her destination, her life and reputation had taken a hit, in a big way. Sacco was fired from her high-end position the following day and has recently reissued a statement of apology to a US print media outlet (after deactivating her social media accounts).


Perhaps keeping racist slurs offline is best… or just don’t be a racist.


Online reputation management is not an unheard of thing. The Internet is saturated with social media reputation ‘how to’s’ for businesses. However, reputation management for individuals is not at the forefront of user’s minds (or at least on the first page of a Google search). With your Facebook ‘friends’ list being a dog’s breakfast of people you know too well or perhaps very little, who is your audience? It’s all a bit grey really, but worth considering.


A new self-exploitative social media trend tagged, #Neknominate, has recently flooded online networks. #Neknominate involves a Facebook user sculling a beer in one minute, nominating a friend to do the same and uploading the video to the user’s page. The following #Neknominate contributor, (usually a male in their early 20’s) generally attempts to outdo their nominator with a more grotesque or peculiar way to ‘nek’ a beer in 60 seconds.


Neknominate Image

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Whilst concerns amongst the public, media and police have arisen – predominantly surrounding the type of drinking culture the trend entices, it is questionable what partaking in the trend could do to an individual’s reputation. Not to be a wet blanket, heck, I like beer a lot. However, it seems that the pack-like movement that is sweeping social media, perhaps clouds the #neknominater’s vision on what could be perceived from the video and who the viewers might be.


But hey, what’s a drink between friends, right?