Social Media: Chat Rooms

My first experience with social media was a subscription-based public chat room, AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), mother to all social networks as we know them now.

I found AIM fascinating at first due to the instant gratification of camaraderie with groups of people with similar interests from across the country. Something that at the time, was very inexpensive to do because unlike talking over the phone or in person and it didn’t even require a plane ticket or a passport. I remember the excitement I would feel as the dial-up buzzed and whirred letting me know I was about to connect.

Many Millennials are way too young to remember AIM or weren’t even born yet. It was at the time, the greatest social network platform before the invention of Facebook or Twitter. AIM consisted of thousands of chat rooms. You could search your zip code and wham! – I was reaching out to like-minded cinephiles, or butchering my way through a beginners Spanish chat conversation!

Unfortunately, like everything else, chat rooms got commercialized, as they became synonymous with predators (remember the show Dateline: To Catch a Predator?), or cannibalized by newer web-based social network platforms.

As chat rooms faded social networks like Friendster, Myspace, and Facebook, had taken its place. It was as though all my family, life long friends, and online buddies got raptured up into the vast World Wide Web in the sky.

I am an outlier because I never took to the widespread practice of social networks like Myspace, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. In my opinion, these social media institutions are intrusive. They require too much personal information and also allow for anyone to intrude into your personal life. I miss the anonymity and simplicity of chat rooms.

Chat rooms of long ago may not be making a big come back anytime soon, but web 2.0 has brought new features and capabilities to share photos, video and of course, chat apps. Despite their unpopularity in the USA, Chat rooms still serve a purpose for individual users and marketers in particularly in other countries.

Some advantages of using chat rooms as opposed to other modes of social media networks include:

#1 – Chat rooms are anonymous. They don’t require a profile or verification.

#2 – Chat rooms allow people to talk uncensored in real time with individuals who have similar interests, hobbies, religious cultures.

#3 – You can talk to more than one person at once, and others can jump in on the conversation at will. with other IM apps, you have to choose the group members.

#4 – As a marketer, you can directly try to influence the group members, by recommending products and services that they are likely to use (and of course, there are always traditional banner ads).

Disadvantages of using chat rooms:

#1 – Anyone regardless of age can get into chat rooms. That can be a problem, especially for younger children, so parents beware, and children watch what you share.

#2 – Ever had several people talking to you all at once? Unfiltered thoughts coming at you all at the same time can be hard to follow.

#3 – There is less room for users, marketers, and advertisers to send out content. Unlike apps like Twitter or Instagram. However, new technology like chatbots is changing this.

#4 – You can multitask while chatting. Specifically, the user may be accessing several programs or apps at the same time to browse the internet, check email, play video games, etc.

There is still a lot of potential in chat rooms. In 2014, Facebook acquired Whatsapp, the ads-free mobile chat app for $19.6 billion that boasted at the time, 500 million users which gives them access to users and locations where internet connectivity is scarce or nonexistent. Earlier this year, Facebook launched its chatbot program allowing marketers to the opportunity to reach content to almost 2 billion users.

Who knows, I may just find my old passion for chat rooms rekindled, or perhaps it’s about time that I, as the saying goes, “let it go and free up energy for something new and better.”

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Has Social Media Become Dangerous?

Social Media has become a major phenomenon not only in our culture here in America but all over the world. We have become accustomed to tweeting, blogging, posting and putting up our lives for the world to see. Billions of posts go through Facebook daily and connect friends and family in ways we never seen before. Instagram is allowing distant relatives to see pictures of their love one’s children, adventures and greatest achievements. With all these social media sites comes great opportunities to connect in a technological world. We are in the future and this way of life is in the forefront of it all. But with every amazing picture or every intimate post comes an opportunity for negativity and aggression. Has social media lost its innocence and being used more as a weapon? We are no longer looking for these portals to only connect friends, we also using these portals to create enemies.

August of 2014 Isis launched a major social media campaign to recruit soldiers for their mission of terror. “The terror group now has its own multilingual media arm, Al Hayat, which is behind the creation and distribution of glossy magazines and highly produced slick videos. ISIS even uses drones and GoPros to appeal to the Western eye” ( The world is now using social media as a tool for war. The messages are aimed for a specific target audience and can be broadcasted anywhere the web can be accessed. In a time where America is seeing more struggles with equality and racism, along with more financial turmoil, we see more people brainwashed by the idea of fighting for a just cause. Social media has no control.

After a recent terror attack on the city of London, our President Donald Trump sent out a series of tweets aimed to not only insult the mayor of London but drive a wedge between a great ally of the United States of America. “We must stop being politically correct and get down to the business of security for our people. If we don’t get smart it will only get worse,” Trump started. At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is “no reason to be alarmed!,” ( What we are experiencing is our own President fire off insults and create more alarm for terrorist attacks here in our home through social media. Social media is quickly becoming a vessel for judgement and accusations. We never use to operate in this manor before as a nation.

Facebook recently displayed a video of a man being murdered. Social media bullying is driving young children to take their own lives. With all the positivity brought on by social media we are now seeing an equal part of negativity. The web is becoming dangerous and people are more on edge than ever. When we look at celebrities or athletes, everyone is ready to jump on their favorite sites and let the world know how unhappy they are with the behavior of these individuals. It is starting to get really ugly and judgement is the main catalyst. Social media is quickly becoming a place to cast judgement instead of looking to connect and help humans through their mistakes.

In no way do I feel that all social media is bad or we are doomed as a society because of it. I just feel that something so free and so anonymous will continue to have major repercussions. When they President of the United States can use Twitter as his own personal ego booster, we are not seeing a great influence into how social media can be an asset to our digital world. I just see social media as becoming more of a problem than a solution. The world is becoming more and more complicated to the people living in it. Social media can be a vessel of hope but we need to start thinking more on level of compassion and understanding. We are to often ready to throw in our opinion without fully thinking of the consequences these actions hold. After all they are only words.


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O’Connor’s Restaurant & Bar and the Power of Social Media

Social media is a powerful tool and when used the right way could make a business boom, but when used the wrong way can take a business to the ground. With people always on the go more and more, they are utilizing social media as their news source. It’s an easy way to see everything that’s happening all at once. So, when you are sitting in a waiting room, why would you open up seven different apps to see what’s happening in the world, when you could open up one social media app like Facebook and read both personal friends updates as well as news updates? I know for me Facebook is my go to place for news, gossip, and just cute family photos and updates from friends and family. It’s so easy to scroll through your newsfeed and just read headline after headline and not dive further in to find out where the story came from and how the information was obtained. One of our local restaurants here in Worcester, MA fell victim to a social media situation, one that I fed in to as well.

O’Connor’s Restaurant & Bar in Worcester had a social media firestorm that sent the city into panic mode. Nobody is truly sure where the original story started, but what we do know is it surely spread like wildfire on social media. Post after post started popping up asking if the rumors were true. One post read “Worcester Peeps, please tell me it’s not true…O’Connor’s Irish Restaurant was sold and is closing…how true is this?”. The beloved Worcester Irish restaurant and bar was closing, at least that’s what everyone thought. The news kept travelling and the stories kept changing. First someone reported that a company bought the building and was going to tear the building down and put up apartments or condominiums; then someone else reported a person was buying the restaurant and reopening it under a new name. As the story was passed around, it continuously changed. Yet everyone just couldn’t understand why a restaurant that was so popular and well known for their authentic Irish food would just shut down and not tell all their devoted customers. The owners were well known in the Worcester Irish community and it all just didn’t add up. Business went on as usual and the questions just kept coming in. Customers would go in to the restaurant and ask, the family of the restaurant owners were receiving messages on Facebook asking about the rumors, but it didn’t matter, the story just kept spreading and spreading.

The truth finally came out. The restaurant finally broke their silence with a Facebook post to set the record straight for everyone.


After all the worrying and the stories that kept spreading, there it was in black and white (actually in color). The stories were false, and although they didn’t know where the rumors had started, they knew they had to put an end to it once and for all. This is a lesson to be learned – that not all news is real news, some is “fake news” or “rumors”. You can’t always believe what you hear (or read), and you always want to make sure that your information is coming from a reliable source.


This social media rumor mill that happened to O’Connor’s Restaurant & Bar could have been a disaster for the restaurant. Two groups were forming, those who were angry with the restaurant because they thought they were closing and didn’t have the decency to reach out to their customers, and those that were running to the restaurant to get their last meal. The longer this story went on without O’Connor’s intervening, the worse it could have been for them. Luckily, they were smart enough to move on it right away and put an end to the crazy rumors. What better way to take care of the rumors than to go right to the place where the issue started, Facebook! There are now a lot of happy people in the Worcester area now that can now use those gift certificates for future visits.

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On (Consequence-)Free Speech

It used to be the case that you could make a crude joke or denigrating comment among a close group of like friends and not have your intentions misconstrued or your context muddled. Never mind that your intentions were thoughtless and hurtful, and that your context was plain as day. It may have been wrong, it may have been reprehensible, but you could pretty much ensure that that comment would not see the light of day outside your closed group. And if by some crazy chance it did, well, you could deny it, or say you were taken out of context – hell, that excuse has worked for politicians since the dawn of time.

For some reason however, even after years of social media activity and many high profile missteps, people still think they can carry on as before, making crude jokes and denigrating comments to 700 of their closest friends on their Facebook and Twitter feeds. There may well be Fort Knoxian bastions of social media privacy, and more power to them. But for the rest of us, there remains just one question:


Take the sad tale of PR maven Justine Sacco. Before hopping a flight from London to Cape Town, she jokingly tweeted:

Justine Sacco

Why?! Especially from someone who understands the ins and outs of public relations, and who knows the reason there is a PR discipline called crisis management. Because of this tweet, just 64 characters in the digital ether, Justine Sacco was fired from her high-flying job.

Another one, from a mortgage loan officer named Lisa Greenwood making her thoughts about the First Lady known:

Lisa Greenwood Tweet

Again, why?! She may well feel that way, but why broadcast it across social media? The misguided Lisa was also fired after an outcry and pressure from an avalanche of Twitter users.

There seems to be a belief among some social media denizens that their social media accounts act as some sort of shield or protective bubble behind which they can say what they wouldn’t in polite company.

One of the arguments offenders often make when called out on their anger, or bigotry, or crudeness is that they have a right to say what they want, a right to free speech. Which is true, as stated in the first amendment to the Constitution. It says congress may make no law abridging the freedom of speech, meaning the government can’t stop you from or punish you for saying just about anything, even on social media. But by the perpetrators’ thinking that means, by attacking them, their right to free speech is being impinged.

What these offensive offenders of social mediaites’ sensibilities refuse to understand is that their right to free speech does not mean they have a right to consequence-free speech. For all intents and purposes, social media is a public space, and all the social mores apply. If what you say on social media is offensive, bigoted, denigrating, misogynistic, or what have you, the government cannot do a single, solitary thing about it. Others in your life cannot stop you from saying what you want either. However, if the customers where you work are offended, your boss can fire you. If your spouse takes your bigotry personally, he or she can divorce you. If your misogyny turns the stomachs of your fellow book club members, they can expel you from the group.

This has been proven over many years – it is not in question. Which is why I was simply flabbergasted when I saw this:


What are we to do when even our supposed best and brightest fall prey to the same idiocy that we everyday mortals stumble over every day? These are smart kids, driven, accomplished – and whose Ivy-degree-blessed futures could potentially be tarnished due to the posting of some dank meme. Once more (and say it with me, loudly): Why?!

I guess the answer for this rhetorical question is more psychological than sociological – we just can’t help ourselves. There is that need in us to constantly try to make others laugh with little throw away zingers often at the expense not just of other individuals but of whole classes of people, or bond over anger stoked by abusive language.

My advice? Simple: Play nice, we’re watching…

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Ethical Social Media Marketing

On social media a young woman regularly posts about her life including her struggle with bi-polar disorder.  As she moves into a manic state her posts on social media alter slightly.  No one knows she is becoming manic, not even she knows.  Social media’s analytics and complex algorithms have detected the shift and start to change the marketing she sees to reflect this.  Her feed is now full of advertisements for purchases to capture her attention and take advantage of her manic state.  One of the most common symptoms of Bi-Polar Disorder is impulsive and irrational spending.  Knowing this firms pay to put their ad in front of her when she most vulnerable and therefore most likely to purchase.  Her social media feed is full of ads for cosmetics, appliances, plastic surgeons, fitness equipment and vacation packages.

  • Is it ethical for marketers to target people with a brain disorder?
  • Where does the ethical and moral responsibility fall?
    • Social media platforms
    • Firms
    • Marketers
    • Individual consumers

Technology can hijack people’s psychological weaknesses, is it ethical to target marketing directly to this weakness?  Imagine the woman with bi-polar started seeing ads for therapists, doctors, medication and bi-polar awareness nonprofits on her social media feed as she was transitioning into a manic state.  These entities could argue marketing to her is not only ethical but a moral obligation as well.

If you are thinking this a not a relevant question for today, you are wrong.  In 2002 the marketing department at Target asked a statistician if he could figure out if a woman was pregnant, even if she didn’t know she was pregnant yet.  The answer was, yes, he could and that was with technology available 15 years ago.  Target was able to predict a woman was pregnant before even she knew.  I’m not implying that Target is unethical for doing this, it’s just an example of how firms have used the data they collect.  The predictive analytics Target used did not depend on the purchase of a home pregnancy test.  A pregnant woman might find it helpful that she now receives coupons or sale notices from Target about baby and pregnancy related items.  Alternatively, a woman who was pregnant as the result of rape or suffers a miscarriage may not be pleased to receive pregnancy and baby related advertising.

Most people are aware that the internet and social media are not private.  What most people don’t understand is that social media is part of the attention economy and is designed to be addictive.  The more attention social media can capture the more money it makes by selling ad space and data collected on consumers.  I’ll give an example of a way social media manipulates consumers.  Most social media platforms have a way of ‘liking’ and responding to posts one enjoys. Through data analytics those platforms have discovered they can capture more attention by withholding likes and responses.  The technology will publish the ‘likes’ and responses in a controlled way over an extended period of time to increase the amount of time, or attention, one spends on that platform.  This technique is especially effective on younger consumers who put great emotional weight on how many ‘likes’ their post receives.  Consider the implications, social media can manipulate a young person’s emotions by withholding or flooding their post with ‘likes’.

Social media marketing allows firms to advertise at the moment consumers are looking for something.  Previously advertisements were limited to billboards, television and magazines.  Marketers chose where to advertise and hoped those who saw it were interested.  Now I look at an item on Amazon and advertising for that item follows me all over social media.  Target markets are changing from large groups of people in a category to individuals whose data indicates they are likely to make a purchase.  Not all reasons why a consumer is likely to make a purchase are benign.  There is no way to regulate every way social media can be used to harm people.  Marketing on social media ethically is the responsibility of marketers and firms.

Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.  It’s supposed to be mutually beneficial to both the business and consumer; not a predatory activity.  There is no way to regulate everyway a business can exploit and harm people, it’s an impossibility. Businesses have a responsibility to act in ethical and moral ways whether it is legally required or not.  As technology continues to advance firms will need to continually evaluate their actions.  Social media is a technology that continues to increase in popularity and has already demonstrated to be a powerful marketing tool.  As Spiderman said – with great power comes great responsibility.

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Manchester Attack: Individuals Turn to Twitter for Help

Over the past few years, I believe Twitter has changed and become a more powerful social media platform. Twitter is now a place for individuals to go and get updates on a variety of news stories. It has also become a place where people feel comfortable expressing their feelings, emotions, opinions, and thoughts on a specific matter. Twitter is a way for everyone to interact globally. With all of the terrorism attacks that have been going on throughout the world, twitter is a place where people will go and tell their story, look for help, or express their sympathy towards the victims and families.

On May 22 ,2017 22 people died and 116 were injured at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester due to a suicide bomber. This concert was full of young adults and teenagers, causing parents to worry that their child may have been seriously injured or killed. Families were having trouble finding and contacting their children so they turned to twitter to ask the public for help.

Twitters assisted parents, family members, and friends find their missing loved ones. I remember being on twitter that day and seeing pictures of the individual who went missing after attending the concert and the people who shared these photos made sure to use the hashtag #Manchester or #Manchesterattack so everyone could see or find their post. Within seconds, these posts went viral and people from all different areas of the world began retweeting and sharing their posts on their social media pages to help these families reunite or get answers. Families hoped that by sharing these tweets and pictures of their missing loved ones, someone would contact them with information on that specific person and where to find them.

Others who did not attend this concert or know anyone that was missing used twitter in a different way. People began opening their homes to stranger in needof help. They used the hashtag #Manchester, #Manchesterattack, or #roomformanchester. These hashtags began trending and help victims and individuals who were at the concert find shelter if they needed a place to go. The hosts used twitter to tweet out their information, how they could be contacts, and what they had to offer to the public. People in need of a phone charger could come and stay for a few hours and others that needed a place to sleep or just a little comfort could come and stay for the night or even a few hours.

Once more information as released, news stations and the general public would inform others where they could find unharmed and safe children and adults.  They also used twitter to let families and friends know where they are keeping children who were lost or unsupervised.

Even though their was some controversy on how twitter was being used during this time due to unkind people tweeting out fake pictures of fake missing people, I still believe that twitter had a huge impact on finding specific people and did more good than harm. Twitter is a place where everyone from all over the world can come together during hard times. Many different countries have had to deal with terrorism, which makes these countries grow stronger and come together as one. Everyone all over the world is there to support one another during these tragedies. Social media has become a main media outlet where people go to get updated on breaking news stories. They turn to twitter and other social media platforms to express their feelings, their opinions, and to find the help they are looking for from the public. That is what twitter and other social media platforms has transformed into. Manchester parents and friends felt as if they could rely on twitter to help them find their missing loved ones and for some people, it may have actually worked.


“Manchester attack: What we know so far.” BBC News. BBC, 07 June 2017. Web. 08 June 2017.

Network, Mary Bowerman. “Manchester bombing: Residents open their homes, offer help to victims.” USA Today. Gannett Satellite Information Network, 23 May 2017. Web. 08 June 2017.



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Are You Under the Influence?

I have always been taught to not believe everything I see on the internet. When I was younger, it was easy to close out the pop ups that would appear on my screen telling me I won a free cruise because I knew that was fake. Now, the line between real and fake on the internet has become a lot hazier. This line is the haziest and most unclear on the social media platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat. On these domains, celebrities and people referred to as “social media influencers” can get cash (or at least free stuff) from companies in exchange for a post about one of their products. This new marketing strategy is “the grey territory between an official testimonial and a subtle product mention, which is done almost in passing.” (, 2016) In 2017, many consumers think that they have outsmarted advertisements and can resist no matter how flashy the T.V. ad is. What they may not know is that, even if they completely ignore T.V., print, and radio ads, they are still being bombarded with just as many advertisements on a daily basis.

The concept of a “social media influencer” is relatively new. A person of this title may not be a household name but still amasses a significant following on whatever social media platforms they use. For example, Kim Kardashian is definitely an influencer but she is a celebrity first. Social media influencers are more niche-oriented. In fact, it may not be in a company’s best interest to have a celebrity like Kim Kardashian, with 100 million Instagram followers, promote their product on social media. In a recent study done by, “influencers in the 10,000-100,000 follower range offer the best combination of engagement and broach reach.” (, 2016) This study found that there is an inverse correlation between the number of followers an influencer has and the amount of likes and comments they receive on their posts. I find this interesting but also conceivable. A person with a smaller following may be seen as more personable/relatable, less of a sell-out, and easier to trust. From my personal experience, I have found myself more trusting of the smaller influencers I follow than of the mega-celebrities I follow.

The growing number of social media platforms available makes it easy for these influencers to find where their voice and brand looks best to consumers. Many utilize multiple platforms in order to get the most reach. For example, recent NYU graduate Skylar Bouchard runs @nycdining on Instagram. The account has 160,000 followers and 3,017 posts which are mostly aesthetically pleasing photos of the decadent meals Bouchard has encountered in New York City and beyond. Bouchard also appears in segments on The Food Network channel’s Snapchat. I have followed Bouchard on Instagram for about year or two and I really enjoy her gluttonous food posts but recently I noticed something odd. Yesterday @nycdining posted an Instagram picture of a delicious looking salad (which wasn’t the odd part.) The caption, however, revealed that the salad was from Wendy’s… To me, a post about a fast food chain’s salad seemed out of place on an Instagram dedicated to the best of the best food in New York City. But then, I saw something that made the odd post make a little more sense: at the end of Bouchard’s caption there was #sponsored. The inclusion of this hashtag made the nature of the post a little more transparent albeit disappointing. Wendy’s essentially saw @nycdining’s audience as a niche to whom they are trying to target the marketing of their new line of salads. As an influencer, Bouchard must have struck a deal with Wendy’s to promote these salads as fresh and healthy on her Instagram in exchange for some sort of compensation. While this is not the most effective pairing of influencer and brand (in my opinion,) Wendy’s new salad line still gets exposure and to be associated with a popular influencer.

An example of influencer marketing that has gotten a lot of media coverage in the past few months is the now infamous Fyre Festival. If you haven’t heard about this comically disastrous excuse for a music festival, basically consumers paid anywhere from $1,500-$250,000 to fly to Exuma for the event, which was organized by Ja Rule and Billy McFarland. Expecting luxurious accommodations, five-star meals, beautiful scenery, and the hottest performers, festival-goers were confronted with shabby tents, little to no food, and dirt fields. The ensuing chaos has resulted in eight action lawsuits, as of May 8th, 2017. On paper, the festival sounded like paradise and was promoted as such. In order to promote the festival, supermodel social media influencers, such as Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid and Emily Ratajkowski, were paid to post about it. 1493626621552

These posts were cited by numerous festival attendees as what persuaded them to buy their tickets to Fyre Festival. The most important aspect of these posts is that the influencers failed to disclose that the posts was sponsored by the Fyre Festival itself. While rarely enforced, the FTC has guidelines for compensated posts. Specifically:

“if there is a ‘material connection’ between an endorser and an advertiser – in other words, a connection that might affect the weight or credibility that consumers give the endorsement – that connection should be clearly and conspicuously disclosed, unless it is already clear from the context of the communication. (, 2017)

However, many think that celebrities and influencers will continue to get away with this kind of sponsored posting until the FTC makes an example out of one of them.

In closing, we need to continue to be careful and vigilant about what we see on social media. In a day and age where social media influencer marketing exists, we should be skeptical about endorsements and do our own research. Just because your favorite food blogger uses a particular brand of almond milk doesn’t mean that it’s actually good almond milk – it may just be the company that offered them money/free products. This doesn’t mean that our favorite influencers can’t provide us with good content; they are just doing what their title implies – influencing.


Agrawal, A.J. (2016, December 27). Why influencer marketing will explode in 2017. Retrieved June 8, 2017, from

FTC Staff Reminds Influencers and Brands to Clearly Disclose Relationship. (2017, April 19). Retrieved June 8, 2017, from

Instagram Marketing: Does Influencer Size Matter? (2016). Retrieved June 8, 2017, from

Kreps, D. (2017, May 8). Fyre Festival organizers hit with sixth lawsuit. Retrieved June 8, 2017, from

Leah, R. (2017, May 4). Fyre Festival “influencers” sued for social media promotion. Retrieved June 8, 2017, from

Newberry, C. (2017, April 19). Influencer marketing on social media: Everything you need to know. Retrieved June 8, 2017, from

Novak, M. (2016, August 30). Average internet celebrities make $75,000 per Instagram ad and $30,000 per paid tweet. Retrieved June 8, 2017, from

Urbaniak, M. (2017, May 25) How to become a social media influencer in ten simple steps. Retrieved June 8, 2017, from


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