COMM0011 – Blog Post #2 First Estate of Social Media

In a modern world it is hard to overestimate the impact of social media. I think the Forth Estate of Media is getting to be a First Estate of Social Media. Less and less people read newspapers. Newspapers have cut more than 33% of their workforce. It doesn’t mean that people are not interested to learn what’s happening in their countries or the world; they just use social media platforms to receive the most recent information. I didn’t think about how powerful social media really is before the tragic event that saw Cecil the 13 year old lion killed by an American dentist, Walter Palmer. It was a favorite beloved Zimbabwean lion and his terrible death entailed an enormous resonance in society. Sad story…

Let`s imagine it happened 30 years ago. People probably would watch the news of this event on TV, read about it in newspapers, and discuss with each other. The culprit who killed this beautiful animal could just move to another city a month after the occasion and probably nobody would remember his name. What happens in our time? The news spreads instantly. It was like throwing a burning match into a dry forest – the fire spreads so quickly. Ryan Broderick’s analysis what happened with Walter Palmer’s life after the lion’s death  greatly illustrates the power of social media.

Twitter, Yellow Pages, Facebook, YouTube, Google page were all full of angry comments and negative reviews. People judge the hunter without a court decision. His business Facebook page was closed as they received too many threatening comments. Through Social Media angry people found out personal information about the dentist’s personal and business addresses and he became a victim of hatred and angry people’s judgment. More than 77,000 people signed a petition to Zimbabwe requesting them to stop issuing hunting licences for rare and endangered animals. Overnight Walter Palmer lost his reputation, he had to stop working for two months, and he quickly became most hated person in the world.

Despite the fact that Walter Palmer offered his regrets and apologies, despite the fact that his hunting was legal, despite the fact that Zimbabwe will not charge him in Cecil the lion’s death as his documents were in order three months later after lion’s death he is personally still in the middle of huge controversy within the social media platforms.

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As a common known fact that people remember negative information better than positive I guess Walter Palmer won`t restore his reputation soon.  As individuals, we are always responsible for our behaviors and putting them out there for the entire world to see could cause upheaval in our lives in a very short time-frame.