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Social Media: The Great Equalizer?

Did anyone else catch this story yesterday?
Mar | 4 | 2010

Mar | 4 | 2010

Did anyone else catch this story yesterday? Colorful golfer John Daly recently exacted revenge on a reporter who published a story on Daly’s lengthy disciplinary history on the PGA tour. From the article:

Daly referred to Florida Times-Union golf writer Garry Smits as a “jerk” and posted the writer’s personal cell phone number.

“Call and flood his line and let’s tell him how we feel,” Daly wrote.

He added two tweets on the matter, saying “this isn’t journalism, it’s paparrazi — like gossip.” In a later post, he again ran Smits’ phone number.

Now, I understand that sites such as TMZ and shows such as Extra only exist because many, many people read and watch them, respectively. If so many didn’t care about the foibles of JLo, “Brangelina“, and Tiger’s mistresses, these sites wouldn’t be nearly as popular. They are just giving us what we want.

Turning the Tables

Let me clear: I certainly don’t pity celebrities who make millions of dollars per year. It must be nice to have that kind of financial security, even if they give up privacy. Many of us would gladly make this trade-off.

In Daly’s case, the guy’s no saint. His demons are well chronicled and some are downright bizarre. (Google “John Daly Diet Coke.”) However, I can’t help but wonder here about the potentially transformative effect of social media here. Could it actually cause the paparazzi to think twice before they go overboard on Kim Kardashian. Think about it. She can theoretically deploy three million Twitter followers at a tweet’s notice. Is this a virtual army?

I must admit that I never thought of using social media as a sword. It’s an intriguing concept, no? What do you think?


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  1. Stephen Baker

    One of the problems with media as many of us experience it today is that it’s focused on celebrities, scandals, etc. (Of course, the trend toward quantifying audience exacerbates these excesses, but that’s another issue.) So we may feel good when one harassed celeb uses social media as a sword. But there are public figures, such as politicians and business execs, who should be covered energetically. It’s in the public interest. And if they find ways to fend off responsible journalists by blogging their questions (Mark Cuban has done this) or twittering their cell phone #s, they might manage to operate more in the shadows.

  2. Terri Rylander

    Hey Phil – what’s your phone number again?

    Haha just kidding. Interesting story-hadn’t heard about it. But the sword you mention has already been wielded on many companies. Just look up the word #FAIL on Twitter. Now that sword is being used to cut someone down personally. Probably not the first time and probably not the last.

    Yes the lines are certainly blurring. Social media makes anyone a public figure. Your story makes me rethink whether I want to list my phone number on my website!

  3. Mike Doyle

    Phil, first off, thanks for the comment under my Twitter Pet Peeves article on my blog. I like your content; I’ve added you to my Google Reader subscriptions.

    Regarding what Daly did, a word of caution. Depending on the state or even city involved, there may be legal reasons not to follow his example. Laws regarding online or telephonic harassment, menacing, and/or stalking could be triggered by giving out someone’s contact information and asking others to lay into them in this manner.

    It also invites the paparazzi–or really, annoyed leading bloggers–to turn the tables and do the exact same thing back to someone like Daly.

    IMHO better not to knowingly pollute the blog & social-media space with attack speech and behavior.

  4. philsimon


    Great replies.

    @Mike – you’re absolutely right. I’m not attorney but imagine that that type of maneuver is fraught with risk. My only point was that now the “aggrieved” celebs now have some ammunition in their fight against overzealous journalists.


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