SMC News 1(4): Coronavirus Hoax Publicity Stunt

Social Media Communication in the News: Real-Time Discussion Starters

Aspiring Rapper and Others Pretended to Have Coronavirus

The newest rage on TikTok and other social media sites is to pretend to have coronavirus in videos designed to spark online and social media attention. James Potok, 28, was on a Toronto to Jamaica flight when he "announced that he was just in Wuhan, China, and he wasn’t 'feeling too well,' The Rolling Stone reported (@RollingStone - 2020, February 6).

Potok told CBC News that, "It certainly wasn't a smart thing to do." He apologized to passengers for ruining their vacation. The plane was forced to return to Ontario, and Potok was charged (@CBCNews - 2020, February 4). "Coronavirus is not something to joke about," he said. "People don't take it lightly."

Question: What can be done to reduce incentives social media users have to create viral videos?

Washington State High School Principal Disciplined For Kobe Comment

Camas High School Principal Liza Sejkora was placed on administrative leave for calling Kobe Bryant "a rapist" after he, his daughter and others died in a helicopter crash. NBC News reported that a deleted post read, "Not gonna lie. Seems to me that karma caught up with a rapist today"  followed by a shrug emoji. Threats followed, and Sejkora later apologized (@NBCNews - 2020, February 5). 

Question:What can we learn from real-time social media fails?

In Case You Missed It: Social Media Sites Are Distrusted As News Sources 
A new Pew Research Center study found that none of the major social media sites had 20 percent trust for Election 2020 news. 

"Indeed, Facebook, the most widely used of the six social media sites examined when it comes to getting political and election news, is distrusted by about six-in-ten U.S. adults (59%). That includes almost equal percentages of Democrats and independents who lean Democratic (59%) and Republicans and independents who lean Republican (62%). Close to half of all U.S. adults also say they distrust Twitter (48%), and about four-in-ten (42%) distrust Instagram" (para. 3, @pewreasearch - 2020, January 29). 

"In Facebook’s case, 13% of Republicans and Republican leaners say they trust the social media site, while 62% say they distrust it. The gap is also large among Democrats and Democratic leaners, with 17% expressing trust and 59% distrust... The numbers aren’t much different for Twitter, where distrust exceeds trust for Republicans (51% vs. 9%) and for Democrats (46% vs. 15%). The data is similar for Instagram (45% distrust vs. 5% trust among Republicans, and 41% distrust vs. 7% trust among Democrats)"(paras. 11-12).

Question: What would lead you to trust or distrust a Facebook post or tweet?

SMC news is curated for Social Media Communication: Concepts, Practices, Data, Law and Ethics, third edition (2021).

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