Social Media PR Problems That Won’t Go Away

Social media PR problems that won’t go away

Social media is fast becoming the ultimate social tie that binds us all together. Nearly everyone uses some form – if not multiple forms – of social media. Because of this near-universal love for this simple way to connect with people near and far, social media can be a great place to build your brand and elevate your reputation.

But what happens when the social media platforms themselves get into PR trouble? Well, as you will see in these examples, getting back in the good graces of your users can sometimes be easier said than done.

Is Twitter ever going to get past the allegations of harassment?

When it comes to online harassment, no social media platform gets tagged with that description more than Twitter. While the platform is great for getting quick messages out to friends and fans, the easy communication format also makes it dead simple to barrage someone with negative messages, drowning people with a constant deluge of mean tweets.

All through 2016, Twitter suffered from constant criticism for not doing enough to stop trolling, racism and even terroristic messages on its platform. Many stars posted their plans to avoid Twitter for the most part, and several journalists have kept an ongoing account of the worst incidences of harassment. Two higher profile exits from the platform include actress Leslie Jones in 2016 and singer Ed Sheeran in 2017.

Heading into 2017, Twitter promised it was taking steps to make things different. There were a few high-profile bans, most notably that of provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos. But, overall, the user experience still includes rampant racist and xenophobic attacks. Recently, one enterprising European journalist went down to Twitter headquarters and chalked out mean tweets he’s received that, he says, Twitter has yet to do anything about.

Snapchat blackface enrages users

Then again, Twitter is not alone in consumer PR problems. Snapchat is known for photo filters, so it’s no surprise when the upload new options. One of these options allowed users to merge their faces with those of famous performers. Seems innocent enough … except when some saw the blending of users’ faces with singer Bob Marley as incidents of blackface.

Whether the slight was intended or not – and most agreed it was not – a very vocal minority created a PR fiasco for Snapchat. But then Snapchat doubled down. Instead of backing off the perceived racist filters, Snapchat introduced the “Asian” filter, which allowed users to give their pictures stereotypical “Asian” features.

Apparently learning nothing, Snapchat argued the slanted eyes, buck teeth, and yellow-hued skin tones were just “inspired by anime” and not meant to resemble the racist cartoon depictions of Asians that, judging by the reaction, pretty much everyone thought of when they first saw them.

To date, neither company has managed to get past these allegations of racism or harassment. While it’s a correlation and may not be a cause, there could be a connection between each platform’s stagnation relative to the steady growth of other social media sites or apps.

About Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian is the Founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations. He is an experienced leader in the public relations industry with over 20 years of experience. Ronn Torossian has been named as Public Relations executive of the year by the American Business Awards, and has run countless award-winning Public Relations programs.

Ronn Torossian CEO

Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian is the Founder and Chairman of 5WPR, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 25 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America’s most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company’s growth, overseeing more than 275 professionals. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named “PR Agency of the Year” by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions. Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world’s most visible companies, brands and organizations. His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, Metropolitan Magazine’s Most Influential New Yorker, a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider, and a recipient of Crain’s New York 2021 Most Notable in Marketing & PR. Torossian is known as one of the country’s foremost experts on crisis communications, and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide. Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly on CNN & CNBC, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and has authored two editions of his book, “For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations,” which is an industry best-seller. A NYC native, Torossian is a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities.

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