Web? Mob? Sometimes It’s Hard to Differentiate

Three items popped up yesterday that while initially disparate, actually spring from the same foundation.

First, my friend Paul Meyer sent me a clip from this New York Times article which outlines the impact Google marketer Wael Ghonim had in galvanizing the youth movement protesting Egyptian police brutality and eventually, all of Mubarak’s regime.  After police beat a young Egyptian to death, Wael created a very active Facebook group “We Are All Khalid Said” and filled it with pro-democracy, anti-government propaganda articles and editorials from around the world.  Ultimately, this culminated in the January 25th Police Day revolt, an event they hoped would gather 50,000 protesters that ultimately drew twice that.  Ghonim used modern media outlets to communicate that the regime in power neither understood nor respected, and ultimately unseated them.  Yeah peaceful mob action!

Dennis Ryan, Chicago Advertising, Element 79

Then there was the viral clip featuring CBS LA TV reporter Serene Branson stumbling through a live post-Grammy piece.  For nearly ten long seconds, she says gibberish and looks panicked before the cameras cut away.  The garbled clip went viral for its ‘hey, laugh at the blonde bubblehead’ hilarity…until unsubstantiated reports arose that she had actually suffered a stroke on air.  Suddenly, it wasn’t so funny.  This morning, CBS doesn’t confirm the stroke rumor, but the uncertainty killed the joke.  Boo sickening mob action!

And then there’s the Daily Online Examiner’s story about the people trying to make a buck selling appliances online at Full House Appliances.  In a bit of understandable but ill-directed policy, they banned “negative feedback” while threatening “criminal libel” against anyone who posts bad reviews of their company.  In a long section of eight point type that follows up their ‘Click to Agree’ box which most of us check with knee-jerk disregard, they explain their motivation this way: “While there are ample consumer protections, the inconvenient truth is that seller (the good ones to be precise) protections are severely lacking.” Lawyers doubt those threats would hold up in court.

Dennis Ryan, Chicago Advertising, Element 79

Today, everyone of us must learn to adapt to a world where people–even name-calling, libel-spewing trolls–have access to powerful media tools.  We have to deal with this new reality.  Whether the revolution breaks our way or not.

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By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

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