Twitter can Cause a PR Headache

My mother always told me “Don’t write something that you wouldn’t want on the front page of the New York Times.” It was true then and it still holds up today. In this age of social media, everyone has to think before they post, because what is said today could become viral tomorrow.

The newest celebrity to take heat for not thinking before tweeting is the new Daily Show host and comedian Trevor Noah. After it was announced that he would be taking Jon Stewart’s spot, Noah’s Twitter skeletons came out of the closet.

Old jokes that he tweeted were surfaced, and showed an unflattering side to the comedian. Noah tweeted sexist and anti-Semitic jokes that went as far back as 2011. If he was even thinking about being in the public eye, he should have thought twice before posting on his social media page. Luckily for Trevor Noah, numerous comedians, including Jon Stewart came to his defense. Even Comedy Central, the network that hosts The Daily Show defended the comedian in a statement that read, “To judge him or his comedy on a handful of his jokes is unfair.”

While Trevor Noah is the latest celebrity to stir up controversy, he is definitely not alone. Singer Chris Brown is known to stir up controversy on Twitter. Brown is already a controversial figure to the public from his domestic dispute with singer and ex-girlfriend Rihanna in 2009, but his remarks on Twitter have everyone asking “What was he thinking?”

In the height of the Ebola crisis, Brown tweeted to his 13.7 million followers, “I don’t know… But I think this Ebola Epidemic is a form of population control.” Chris Brown received tons of backlash from his comments ridiculing the star saying that he knows nothing about the important medical issue, even one fan said “Why do morons have to be famous.” After 3 minutes of backlash, Brown himself tweeted that he should just shut up. Chris Brown needs to be more careful with his opinions because he is a public figure and has millions of followers. When in doubt, ask your publicist!

Twitter is the social media platform that holds more controversies because there are more ways to be involved with conversations than on Facebook. Twitter acts in real time, stories break, topics trend, and people join in a more organic conversation than on Facebook. It is easier to share information with more than just your followers, because hashtags (#) allow your content to be searched by anyone. Because of this, companies and celebrities alike need to be careful when joining in on trending topics.

In September 2014, in the middle of the Ray Rice domestic abuse scandal, DiGiorno Pizza unknowingly joined in on the domestic abuse trending topic #WhyIStayed, where domestic abuse victims were sharing why they stayed in the relationship. DiGiorno tweeted “#WhyIStayed You had pizza.” The company received tons of angry tweets saying that they were trying to make light of a serious issue. DiGiorno deleted the tweet, and sent several apologetic tweets to its followers.

The lesson to be learned is that no matter the size of the trending topic, context is key and celebrities and companies need to stay informed and pay attention. Not every conversation is meant for public consumption.