Thursday, October 1, 2009

Fake Amber Alerts, are People Abusing Social Media

Today I received a text message about an amber alert in my area. Of course I forwarded the message on to my friends; I wanted to help. I got a message back from a friend of mine saying that she had heard on a local news channel that the alert is a hoax and has spread all over the area; thousands of people have received the fake message via text, Twitter, Face Book, and various other social media sites. At first, I was a little mad, then disappointed, and then just plain curious. I was mad at myself for forwarding the message on before checking for accuracy, disappointed at the nincompoop who started the whole thing in the first place, and curious at the fact that the message had spread so fast over a one day period. So, the question now stands in my mind, has the boy cried wolf so many times that people are going to be desensitized when the real emergency needs to go viral across social media.

What happened to social media integrity?

Have you ever received one of those seemingly robotic messages through text, email, twitter, or other social media sites. In my opinion, those people are abusing social media. They act as though they aren't human and expect the rest of us to respond with smiling faces. Seriously, what ever happened to being human? Is the world so full of machines that we now feel the need to blend in with them instead of the other way around?

There are literally thousands of people who take advantage of the benefits of social media in order to scam others, to spread false information, or make their marketing efforts mechanical and machine-like. Yes, there are those who would take the positives right out of social media, causing the rest of us, those who use it for good, to be absolutely disgusted.

The right way to use social media

Getting Amber Alerts and other emergency information out via social media sites and text message is a brilliant idea but only if people don't abuse it. If the hoax had been a real alert, thousands of people across this state and other states would have been watching for the car in question. In the case of a true emergency social media can be and should be used to spread the word as fast as possible.

The right way to use social media for marketing purposes is to make sure that your intention is to help customers or inform the public of an additional service which your company now offers. No matter what, be sure to act personable, and really get across that you truly do care about the people you are sending the message to.

In short, please do not abuse the social media system, you're human, act like it. People want to know that they are seen as real people and they want to see you as a real person too.

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