Fred Lewis scooped the rest of the media on his news of his trade to the Toronto Blue Jays last night. Before newspapers, blogs or anyone else reported Lewis’ departure from the San Francisco Giants, he did it himself, on Facebook. “Fred is now a Blue Jay” read Lewis’ Facebook Page, at 6:15pm Thursday night. The deal was confirmed later, with Henry Schulman of the San Francisco sending out a tweet.
What an effective little way to do things, for a celebrity these days. Skip the formalities of the press, and go straight to the public through your social media profile. There are a number of celebrities taking similar measures, avoiding some of the drama of an official press-run statement. Other times, however, such a move can create just as much drama as a tabloid cover.
So when does a celebrity utilize social media, rather than be negatively affected by it? The navigation of digital networks has created a need for a verification system that protects the privacy and information of important people. In an era where Facebook makes user profiles more public by default, and Twitter offers the most readily accessed database for shared information,a celebrity presence is helping to develop a demand for increased responsibility around our data.
The hacking of a celebrity profile on a social network can make the news, or it could spread false information. Direct access to a wide sea of people is a blessing and a curse for all social network users, as more individuals recognize the influence of their own brand online. Information shared through social media is also becoming more legally binding, adding to the gravity of its purpose and usability. Where does the responsibility lie in protecting user information?
As social media information also becomes more mobile and automated, this question will need to be addressed on multiple levels. In many ways, consumers are becoming more comfortable with sharing information publicly. Yet those networks that overstep their bounds create a backlash that keeps ambitious initiatives at bay.
Celebrity presence on social media sites helps to encourage certain standards around public information and sharing mechanisms, even if it takes a while for some of these features to trickle down to the regular users. Take Twitter Verified Profiles, for instance. Still, there is plenty to be learned about the benefits, pitfalls and future of social media as we look at its relationship with the celebrity of the new era.