All is fair in love and social

Under normal circumstances, I would not site Perez Hilton as a newsworthy source. 

But, nothing about social media is normal. Except people, that is. 

So for today's post, I wanted to concentrate on a dangerous trend that is, well, trending. 

Lately, it's pretty easy to find news stories written about not so much how many people are using social media as their preferred public channel choice to communicate in general, but a channel that is being used as something much more intimate and intimidating. Which makes me want to ask the question, "Are we ready for everything in social to be fair game?"


Take @jennyjohnsonhi5 and @chrisbrown. Jenny Johnson is a comedian and writer. Chris Brown is a woman-abuser and a singer. How are they related? I don't know, but it goes like this: Chris says something dumb in Twitter and Jenny retweets & responds, much to the delight of her 349.9k followers. They appear to feed off each other, but we all know Chris can only handle so much domestic felicity before he loses it in a big way. In the latest battle, which Perez covered nicely on his blog as did HuffPost and most notably, Billboard showcased the spiral out of control from offensive banter between two celebrities to a serious offense that may be examined from a legal perspective. The result? Chris Brown deleted his account again. Wah. Questions still remain if he can be held accountable for the content of the tweets, or worse, that his threats and the threats of his fans can be considered harassment enough that if she wanted, Jenny Johnson could press charges. Will she? Probably not. But the question remains. How far is too far? Or rather, how will precedent be set in the ever-evolving field of social media. Because some of these tweets are downright death threats. 


Speaking of warnings, death threats and ongoing battles via public channels of communication, the battle between Israeli Defense Forces and Hamas' have taken texting to a whole new level. Not a good one, either. Digital Trends recently published an article outlining the trial and error that is being played out in Twitter right now. One official account threatens another and Twitter is being called on to stop the madness. Is it really Twitter's responsibility to police their channels for abusive and illegal communications or should another party be held responsible? Remember, all social channels are governed by their Terms of Service; something a user must agree to in order to set up an account. And when that user does not comply it's nothing until someone gets hurt, right?  It's a question of balance of power vs personal freedom. 

It's an old question. New technology. Old issue. It's the First Amendment again, folks.  Freedom of speech. Freedom of press, belief and assembly. Freedom of expression without government interference. The very elements that makes social communication so compelling. However different we are, some basic civil liberties are guaranteed to all in the U.S. 

The more things change, the more they stay the same, indeed. 


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