End of Anonymity with release of Racism 2.0

There’s certainly no question that the “Unite the Right” rally that took place in Charlottesville, VA was abhorrent in its message and in the resulting violence that took place, leaving one protester dead at the hands of a Nazi sympathizer.  While one can certainly argue that free speech is alive and well in the rhetoric of the alt-right, allowing them the ability to gather and speak their minds freely without government oppression, the interesting part about this particular rally is that it may have very well spawned the true end of anonymity in the age of social media with the rebirth of Racism 2.0.

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As police and investigators were cleaning up from the mayhem, a lone Twitter account by the name of YesYoureRacist had already begun naming identifiable rally attendees from photographs posted by the media with the help of fellow Twitter users and other social media accounts.  The account only had 63,000 users on Saturday but is on track to break 400,000 followers by the end of the week, according to ABCNews.

This type of practice has been commonly referred to as “doxxing”.  Merriam-Webster defines doxxing as “to publicly identify or publish private information about (someone) especially as a form of punishment or revenge.”  That may no longer be the case as Dave Weigel from the Washington Post has noted “It’s not “doxxing” to identify people who appeared in public at a rally and have given media interviews about their beliefs.”

As seen in the photo above, there was a brutal assault that took place on an individual named Deandre Harris.  New York Daily News reporter and activist Shaun King took to Twitter to crowdsource and unmask all 5 of the assailants and before the police could even file reports, 2 of the 5 were discovered, stating that with one, his “neck moles gave it away.

With the turbulent political, social and economic times we are facing as a nation, we’re all united; not necessarily by the same beliefs, but by the ubiquitous technology that we carry with us every day.  These phones, connected to social media, now hold immense power to show the world what is going on around us within a matter of seconds and for those at the forefront of conflict, that data.  And that data which lives online has given anyone the ability to find out information about anyone.  Especially those involved in something hateful, such as an openly racist rally.

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YesYoureRacist Twitter

The common social response to the photos and videos posted by the media and then re-posted by the YesYoureRacist account was  “‘Oh! I went to high school with this person.’ ‘I had a class in college with that person.’ ‘I recognize this person as a prominent white supremacist in my area,” according to Logan Smith who has spearheaded the movement of identifying those involved in the white supremacist movement.  When that crowd identifies someone such as Cole White or Peter Tefft the response can be instantaneous and swift social justice can occur.  White was immediately let go from his job at a hot dog eatery, while Tefft’s father literally disowned him from his involvement in the rally.   Some might say it’s mob mentality, but when those identified are in the wrong, is it really wrong to post their names?

The end result of all this mayhem, hate speech, and protesting is anyone involved can be discovered through a post, a Google search, and few clicks. As we navigate this wild time in our history, active participants in public events must remember that actions and words definitely influence how people and the world at large view you, especially if those actions and words are spreading a message of ignorance.  With social media’s electric eye, we must do better.  It’s not the 1950’s anymore.

Fight Night: Instagram vs. Snapchat

Even before the company took its stock public, Snapchat was under a great strain to maintain a user base that would stick with it in the long term.  In the cutthroat world of social media, it’s all about the numbers and Facebook was looking for blood.   So it was no surprise when Facebook’s Instagram platform debuted a “Stories” feature that outmatched Snapchat’s functionality.  This was August 2016, months ahead of the initial offering and valuation.  A year later, will brands and consumers stay on?

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Having watched the stock from the beginning go sky high, only to find it falling substantially, it’s clear that Snapchat has some huge steps to take if it wants to keep afloat in the chummed waters of the sea of social media.  Let’s examine what this might mean for certain brands who are thinking of investing a lot of time (and money) into the Snapchat platform.

According to AdAge who interviewed an agency exec under anonymity, “Instagram ads cost $4 CPMs (price per 1,000 impressions) versus $8.50 for Snapchat.”  That is a massive increase in spending for a brand that is unsure of a new platform to begin advertising on.  With video being the biggest thing since sliced bread in advertising, capturing an audience for nearly double the spend seems like a crazy place to throw your money.  It’s doubly crazy because Snapchat has yet to debut a backend analytics feature like Facebook is capable of which shows you where your money and audience is going.

Additionally, Forbes was quick to point out “Most influencers, as well as average users, flocked to Instagram Stories because it was where their current networks already were.” The same article goes on to say that the two networks are drastically different in demographic, so depending on what your brand’s social strategy is, aside from your ad spend nearly doubling, you’re bound to find more people through Instagram.  This is just a better bet overall unless your brand is skewing super young and has really bold translatable content.

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That’s not to say Snapchat is all bad, it certainly has an active and dedicated user base, as Business Insider published that users “spend an average of 25-30 minutes a day on Snapchat…60% are also creating new content.”  That is a massive amount of time to be spent on one app, coming up with new and fun stuff to send your friends (regardless of its disposable nature).  Snapchat users aren’t passive, they’re active and they’re notably younger which is why brands are clamoring to get their attention on the platform.  I just don’t think it’s going to work as well as people are hoping.

Doubling your ad spend for a smaller audience and a specific demographic that can smell advertising from a mile away is going to be a hard thing to weigh.  Even now Snapchat is doing everything in its power to compete with its arch nemesis, Facebook.  It’s seemingly a race to the bottom as Instagram holds strong at 250 million active users and Snapchat at 166 Million, according to CNN Tech.  Earlier this month they announced Snap Maps which allows you to see your friends snaps in a geo-targeted fashion, but even with this tech update will their innovation be enough to keep them in the running with a media giant like Facebook’s Instagram?  I guess we’ll just have to watch the stock and see.

The Future of Communciation

I suppose anything is possible in the realm of communication.  The direction we’re heading with media convergence and new improved social media being developed every day is leading us to an entirely connected society.  Net Neutrality remains an incredibly troubling issue as the powers that be continue to mess with something that isn’t broken…so why fix it? unnamed In an ideal world, we’d have free internet for everyone and free education for all so that we could encourage people to innovate and create new technologies, propelling us further into the future.  Right now, it feels like we’re dragging our feet.  The major cell phone companies have yet to release 5G, which we’ve all been waiting patiently for several years.  The cell companies have also been continuously rereleasing the same phone with only minor improvements for the past several years.  Seems like ever since Steve Jobs died, real innovation has gone the way of the dinosaur.  We need vision.  The Elon Musk’s of the world don’t care about communication, they’re focused on transportation.  We need to open up the net, make education available and watch as the hottest new apps are developed by our brilliant young minds in any city in the U.S. and not just Silicon Valley.  url.jpg

PR is What You Pray For

1deb30006a05bae5baba54d23bfedd71PR is a crazy world.  Having worked in the field for close to twelve years, it’s a wild and wacky place to play.  It’s a significant relationship game, but that’s changed recently to be more of a strategy game involving the company, the talent, and the media all working in tandem.  Advertising has always been a bit of a mystery to me, especially in the new age of digital.  Fortunately, in my new job, I’m very closely connected with my sales team, so I get to witness the chaos of media buys first hand.  These deals have little to nothing to do with PR, but sometimes certain elements of an agreement can be incorporated into a publicity campaign to get the hype.  Using brand leverage to boost 20f7752f09ab1964f23dbd935e189cc2your client or talents profile can sometimes be of assistance when it comes to promoting products.  If there’s an ad spend in place, it’s best to connect with the brand’s publicist directly to see if that leverage can be used or maybe held for a later time.  With the dissipation of print media and the increase in online content, specialized or general, there’s no better time for PR to push talent to become “thought leaders” in their specific arenas to grab the attention of those press partners who might be covering.  But paying to play is never a good thing, that’s why we have to advertise – to tell us, not show us.

Grading the Trump Campaign, Collegeiate Style

DonaldGradeGen-300x159Well shit.  Easy targets are sometimes the hardest to find in regards to new ways to take them down.  There’s nothing to like about the Trump campaign.  He’s proven to be a vile businessman, which is the platform he ultimately ran on.  In regards to journalism, the fact that his team eventually grabbed a flavor-of-the-week term of “Fake News” and then built his campaign promises around deflecting poses too many ethical issues with how he made his money, how he still is making money and how his cronies will run a shadow government is just F-grade material.

I mean honestly, if I came into your class and told you that I knew everything you were going to talk about, you had absolutely no business being a professor because I had more “job” experience than you, and perhaps you had some weird email debacle with Syracuse that was old-dead news and continually repeated that rhetoric until you gave me a decent grade – I would be absolutely shit-out-of-luck.  And I’ve disagreed with curriculums before, but the rate at which the media cow-towed to the great orange Cheeto is troubling.

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I will give a B-grade to the underdogs, however.  The Teen Vogue’s and rogue agents of the National Parks systems of the world are doing a great deal of journalistic justice for their audiences, and it shows.  These real truths, real reporting, and real talk are what is necessary to show what is really going on in our crazy society.  The lack of actual reporting from major media networks has opened up a whole new world of possibility for the lower tier media to step in and take command.

Playing Dirty with Big Data

It seems the time has come for Congress to impede on the rights of everyone who uses the internet once again.  Whether it be net neutrality or something a bit more sinister, the government wants to watch our Internet behaviors and unleash them to the highest bidder.  The greatest thing that big data has to offer our higher powers is the ability to know how we operate and what we want on a day-to-day basis so that they can ultimately control us.

big_dataSo perhaps that’s a little morbid, but the deregulation of the internet has been a hot topic in this class and its been a hot topic in the world as a whole as we enter into this new age of men trying to keep the next generation at bay.  Allowing our search histories to be sold to companies for advertising or other nefarious things isn’t going to change the fact that majority of people aren’t going to notice the rug being sold out from under them.  Maybe they will notice and take action against their representatives?  Who knows.  It seems we’re in the wild west of tech when we should have moved beyond that, been smarter than that by now, but maybe we’ll just have to keep waiting for that dystopian future we were promised back in the 1960’s until it’s sold back to us through our own data.

Where Does Social Media go to Die?

In its final days of exisitence on servers around the web, where oh where does social media go to die?

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Think of the various sites you’ve signed up for over the years and how many of them you actually access now.  There’s most likely a ton of sites which have fallen from grace and are decaying on the internet or have shuttered completely.  Think about all the information, time and effort you put into those sites.  Let’s take MySpace for example, and a great example it is.

2014062472Dead_Social.b8618When MySpace was in its boom phase, somewhere around 2006, everyone was on the site.  Music was discovered there, and musicians were signed from MySpace.  My previous employer found new talent on MySpace and published some of their work.  It was THE place to be.  But then, something changed.  Suddenly interest started to fade as the corporate entities began valuing the massive amount of data available.  And the die-off began.

MySpace didn’t even make it to the point of optimizing for mobile because by the time News Corp purchased them, the interface had been changed, fans had been alienated, and the kids abandoned ship to Twitter.  But even in death, all that data still lives on.  Held in limbo by Justin Timberlake, waiting to either be closed or sold again to the highest bidder.