The True Cost of Viral Social Media

viral social mediaWith how quickly information spreads on social media, the concept of “15 minutes of fame” has turned into a mere 15 seconds. The viral social media star of Monday will get replaced, and become old news by Tuesday.

Most people assume that going viral is a good thing. Yes, it can launch a career or make a business explode overnight. But there is also a dark side to viral social media that no one really talks about.  The more people search for you, the more information they find about you. And the more information they find… well, it can go one of several ways here.

Take Josh Holz, for example. Not familiar with that name? You might know him better as the guy behind the infamous “Damn Daniel” meme, that later got him on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Sure, the viral power of the “Damn Daniel” video brought Holz short-lived fame, but it also brought him quite the scare. Users searching for Holz somehow came across his home address and called in a fake police tip. Holz was then “swatted,” meaning a SWAT team showed up at his house thinking someone was in danger. Even if Holz never intended for his video to go viral, his life changed virtually overnight. Being thrust into the spotlight made him vulnerable – regardless if he wanted the attention or not.

In another scenario, being the subject of viral social media can also lead to reputation-ruining backlash, which is exactly what happened to Ken Bone. If you watched the second ken bonepresidential debate, or have been on social media in the past week, you probably know who Ken Bone is. People of the internet declared him the winner of the presidential debate. However, Ken Bone quickly fell from grace after people came across a slew of negative comments he left on Reddit.

Neither Bone nor Holz expected to become famous over night, but being the subjects of viral social media placed them under intense scrutiny — whether they were ready of it or not.