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Social Media as a Matter of Life and Death

August 24, 2016

On Wednesday, Gizmodo claimed that following the right people on social media can save your life. But other approaches to the same underlying story emphasize that saying the wrong thing on social media can potentially give a court of law the incentive it needs to end yours.

That story involves the criminal case against Zachary Penton, a 21 year-old Arizona many who allegedly tweeted that he needed to move before he murdered his roommates, just days before he shot one of them in a struggle. Whereas the prosecution argues that the tweet is a sign of premeditation, the defense maintains that Penton is in danger of being subject to the death penalty just because of an unfortunately-timed, facetious remark.

But there’s one thing I think we can all agree on: this story is a powerful object lesson in the perils of mishandling social media. While I would never compare a man’s death to the sorts of consequences that businesses face when they follow the wrong people or make careless posts, I can’t help but appreciate that there’s no more vivid example of the power that a Los Angeles social media company can wield for its clients.

Of course it’s hard to imagine that your local social media company could cause or prevent your death. But if you aren’t gathering the right information with Facebook and Twitter, or presenting the right image to your customers, inadequate social media management could very well be the death of your business.

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