Social Media’s Influence

By: Taylor Allison

During the original 2011 twitter scandal, his essential misuse of social media by public tweeting photos instead of direct messaging them, caused his 45,100 followers to all receive the photo, setting off a media firestorm.  Claiming he was hacked, the social media platform was almost entirely responsible for the speed at which the information reached the public, and therefore the speed in which the photos circulated and got into the hands of the media outlets.

In the days following the lewd photos, Weiner attempted to use the fast paced social media site to his advantage by making jokes about the alleged hacking incident, causing his follower count to skyrocket.  He also joked to a POLITICO reporter, “The weiner gags never get old, I guess.” When he admitted, however, to posting the original photos, he was so far down a road of scandal and lying, with pages of proof, that there was no escaping the public and media outrage.

Two years after the original scandal, Weiner came back into the spotlight to run for mayor of New York City. At the beginning, the Weiner campaign was quite smart with their social media campaign by using YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter to get their message across, but that all soon faltered when Weiner was again caught using social media under a fake name to send photos to women.  In those moments, his social media platform and public relations campaign failed in a huge way, ending any hopes he had of reclaiming his former political campaign.  In addition to social media being his own enemy, his public relations teamed gravely failed to do damage control in attempts to save the campaign.  As one made the point in a Huffington Post article, “it’s almost as if the candidate himself has been handling the campaign’s social media work — or, worse, it’s in the hands of an intern — because the messages have become disjointed and horribly timed”.

The way in which Anthony Weiner used social media and how it affected his term in office and his run for mayor, is an example of the Uses and Gratifications Theory in the Public Relations field.  The Uses and Gratifications theory can be seen in the ways Weiner and his team attempted to use social media during in mayoral campaign to reach the young audience through outlets like YouTube. But it also shows how those social media sites affected how people perceived Weiner throughout the scandal because of how he used social media in an exploitative manner to essentially have affairs with young women on the other side of the country.  Despite Weiner’s personal decisions, this scandal became this public due to the fact that he couldn’t understand the importance and speed of social media in today’s society and how easy it is to click “share” and give information to thousands in a single instant.


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