Inside PR 400: The Social Media Mob

Just a little more than a year after Justine Sacco sent the ill-fated, “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m White!” tweet, The New York Times Magazine wrote an in-depth piece on her (and others who have suffered the social media mob) to see where she is now and how this has affected her livelihood.

There has been a lot of subsequent coverage on the topic:

It’s an interesting look at the social media, whether the crime fits the punishment, and how we might all need to chill.

Jon Ronson, the article’s author, even researched how long it has been since society allowed public shamings in much the same way we ridicule online (the 14th Century).

The conversation turns from the social media mob and online lynchings to how we can use humor in our social media efforts without coming across as clueless and insensitive as the Sacco tweet.

Her point was that the tweet was so ridiculous, she couldn’t imagine anyone taking it seriously. She was making a satirical remark on the bubble we live in in North America. But what she learned is, unless you’re Louis CK or South Park, satire doesn’t work so well in 140 characters.

It’s an interesting world we live in. Many business leaders are scared of what happens when an employee doesn’t think and sends a tweet like this, or when a customer is unhappy and doesn’t get his way. There are, of course, ways to deal with critics, but Joe poses the question, “Does it make sense in some extreme cases to go completely dark?”

What do you think?

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