Social media has been an instrumental tool for connecting celebrities with loyal fans throughout the world and for marketing purposes, and it has even spawned its own breed of celebrities (i.e. YouTube stars). However, it is also being used as a weapon of mass destruction.
In recent years there has been a massive spike in the number of social media threats aimed at celebrities, which some laugh off. On the other hand, others have taken the threats far more seriously resulting in their social networking profiles being deleted.
The fact is that any and all potential threats posted on social networks must be taken seriously because, as history shows, such threats can lead to catastrophes. For example, the Ismaiiyl Brinsley incident in New York that left two NYPD officers dead. If someone is bold and crazy enough to walk up to two armed police officers and shoot them in cold blood, how are celebrities safer? They’re not.
As someone that worked in-house for a billion-dollar celebrity brand and has provided social media guidance to a variety of celebrities over the years, I have intimate knowledge of just how crazy some people can be. And what’s important is finding the right balance between being vigilant and resilient.
Social media threats are aimed at generating fear and sometimes outline actual harm that will be done, but in the face of such attacks celebrities have to weigh their options while maintaining their image. Looking at both sides of the spectrum, ignoring threats and running from them can be equally as harmful, and finding a middle ground is key.
If threats are intended to create fear and celebrities respond in a fearful manner, the attacker’s mission was successful. And if a specific action produces the desired result, celebrities become more vulnerable in the future. By not showing fear and continuing on a positive trajectory the impact of threats is suppressed publicly, but can be thoroughly investigated behind the scenes by private security teams as well as law enforcement agencies.
The roadblock most private security teams face is a lack of experience in social media threat detection as well as the absence of purpose-built tools to effectively monitor and assess social media threats in real-time. A celebrity can have an army of security personnel but if someone can make a death threat on social networks from a geolocation nearby and such isn’t relayed to those with boots on the ground, there’s a serious problem. And that is what’s happening in the world today.
The moral of the story is that all celebrities need to take social media threats seriously to not only prevent harm to themselves and their image, but also their loved ones.