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Monday, March 15, 2010

The Dark Side of Social Media

Hamilton Spectator, March 15, 2010:
Teen dead in triple shooting

Two partygoers complained about music at student house, then pulled handguns; two others wounded

The party had been advertised on Facebook and other social media. Eyewitnesses said the suspects were acting strange and combative that night.
Seldom do we see a more stark example of how a tool designed to augment our existence may be used to harm us. It seems the two suspects showed up with intentions to celebrate March break in their own manner. This ambiguity is in the nature of all tools. The tool is ethically neutral, but its uses are not. A hammer can be used to build a house, but it can also be used as a weapon.

What this story illustrates is how little we can do to control or manage the ways in which social media are used. We release information into the wild and it mutates like a virus.

As marketers, we have to understand that a social medium is not just another marketing or advertising medium. We can't control the conversation. We can't manage the medium. And we can't determine the uses to which our information is put.

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