Why Social Media Matters

Last week, the Associated Press’s Twitter account was hacked by an experienced rogue group of hackers.  If you’re not familiar with what happened, AP’s Twitter account announced that explosions had erupted at the White House and that President Barack Obama had been injured in the attack.  The Dow Jones Industrial subsequently – although briefly – dropped well over 100 points.  It rebounded shortly thereafter after the AP acknowledged the hack.

None of this was – or is true.  To learn more details of the hack, check out this report on NPR.

Please pause and consider the ramifications of this significant event.  An announcement that the President of the United States has been injured not only causes concern for the Office, but for the state of national security as well.  It implies political instability and could yield a variety of damaging effects had the Associated Press not addressed the breach as quickly and publicly as it did.  Consider, if you will, the consequences of the drop in the stock market and the short-term frenzy that it cause.  While the hack was short-lived, it is indeed reminiscent of the events immediately following September 11, 2001.

Now some six years into my social media journey, I still cross paths with folks who maintain that “social media doesn’t matter.”  Some naysayers deem social media a fad, a passing trend or flights of fancy for Generation Y.  Many of us now get our new from social media, flawed though it may be.  While much of the information released via social media during the wake of the tragic recent Boston Marathon bombings was false, some of the most important – and current – information is also released via social media.  The most important tweet during a five-day siege of fear was released by Boston Police Department:  “CAPTURED!!! The hunt is over. The search is done. The terror is over. And justice has won. Suspect in custody.”

Social media matters more than ever before.

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