Social Media Matters: Twitter prank gets TV star in trouble

Social Media MattersSocial Media Matters
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Friday, Oct. 12, 2012
Metro section

Twitter prank gets TV star in trouble

MTV’s Jackass star Bam Margera found himself in a bit of doggie doo-doo on Oct. 4 when he posted the following to his Twitter account (@Bam_Margera): “Penny pooped in my bed. Not too fond of that. If it happens again, Penny goes Bye Byes!”

Click to enlarge.

The tweet was accompanied by a link to a photo showing Penny, his puppy, in Margera’s arms. Meanwhile, Margera has a toy gun pointed at the dog’s head. Unfortunately for Margera, he didn’t make it clear in the tweet that the gun was a toy, leading to much concern among some users that he was actually going to harm the dog.

According to an Associated Press report published in The Vancouver Sun on Oct. 9, Margera said, “he condemns animal abuse and didn’t mean any harm by a photo posted online showing him holding his pit bull puppy with a toy gun pointed to its head.”

The report went on to say that Margera “loves animals and wished he had made it more clear the gun was fake.” Meanwhile, SPCA officials were not amused and said the so-called joke was not funny.

Facebook and Twitter should be more accountable

Keir Starmer, the U.K.’s director of public prosecutions, “is exploring whether Facebook and Twitter should take more responsibility for policing their networks for abuse and harassment in an attempt to reduce the number of cases coming to court,” according to a report published in the British newspaper The Guardian on Oct. 9.

April Jones

Pressure has been mounting on the U.K. government lately after a number of arrests were made following harassing and vicious online comments, including a 12-week jail sentence handed down to a teenager who made so-called “sick jokes” on Facebook regarding April Jones, a missing five-year old girl. In another case, a man was sentenced to 240 hours of community service after posting a comment on Facebook that “all soldiers should die and go to hell” following the deaths of six British troops.

Another Costco hoax on Facebook

Apparently, Costco has become even more generous (and I say that sarcastically) on Facebook than they were before. Gee, they were offering $250 gift cards to Facebook users a few months ago and now they’ve upped the ante to $500 to every Facebook user… all one billion of them! (Facebook just reached one billion users.)

So, that’s $500,000,000,000 in free gift cards. And if you believe that and click on the accompanying link, all your Facebook friends are tagged in the fake gift card’s photo and you end up wearing the credibility fallout. The hoax started showing up in my Facebook feed late on Tuesday evening and within a few minutes after people started clicking on the link, it started spreading like wildfire and polluting everyone’s newsfeed.

Again, Costco is not giving away free gift $500 cards (or any other amount). If you see someone sharing this silly and ridiculously naive offer, please educate them not to click on the link. It’s a hoax and they risk being reported for spreading spam online.

How should Facebook stop this perpetual gift card hoax? My suggestion: every single user who clicks on these links should have their account suspended for 48 hours. Considering the huge role that Facebook plays in staying connected, it may just be the lesson that users need so that they stop clicking on this stuff “just in case” it’s true. Facebook really needs to send a message not only to the people who create this stuff, but to users who just blindly spread it without thinking.

This week’s featured YouTube channels

Every week, I feature three YouTube channels for you to check out. Statistics are current to Oct. 9. Have a favourite YouTube channel? Please let me know and I may feature it here. This week’s channels are all science-related.

1) SciShow (286,891 subscribers): This is a great science-related channel with nearly 300 videos that have amassed a total of nearly 21 million views. The videos take a scientific look at a variety of questions, such as, “Why aren’t there giant insects today?” Other topics include why we think things are cute, how caffeine affects you and the top five deadliest diseases. Yup, you could pretty much spend hours on here. Videos are organized into a variety of playlists touching on biology, chemistry, physics and astrophysics, to name a few. (Most popular video: Mind reading – 504,362 views.)

2) Smarter Every Day (274,278 subscribers): This channel is hosted by Destin (no last name provided) who is using the channel to raise funds for his children’s college fund, according to the channel description. (A link is provided to donate — sort of a “tip” if you think his content is useful.) The channel’s more than 100 videos have a very impressive total of just less than 26 million views. Hopefully, he’s getting some donations out of that! Destin also has a companion Twitter account at @SmarterYoutube (3,754 followers). (Most popular video: Improvising in Africa. Warning – GROSS – Smarter Every Day 28 – 6,393,940 views.)

Warning: This video may not be suitable for everyone.

3) Veritasium (100,528 subscribers): This is yet another very interesting channel loaded with videos of scientific experiments and various tricks. Hosted by Derek Muller, the channel has just more than 8.6 million total views and includes playlists such as Slinky drop, science experiments and misconceptions. Also check out the companion Twitter account at @veritasium (3,517 followers) and Facebook (facebook.com/veritasium – 77,281 likes). (Most popular video: Slinky Drop Answer – 1,081,364 views.)

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