When Social Media Virality Turns News Sensation
Average people gain mass followings on social media accounts daily making the road to fame seem very accessible nowadays. But what happens when these fame-seekers go a bit too far and make national news for their actions? Recently, producer, Jensen Karp, made headlines and was plastered all over Twitter timelines Monday, March 22nd, 2021 after claiming to have found shrimp tails in his bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Karp tweeted at the cereal giant:
After Karp wrote “(This is not a bit)” most were fast to believe him. Although having a decent-sized following Karp was not thought to be a celebrity or someone trying to attain “clout” therefore making him and his story appear trustworthy. For a while, banter had started between Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Karp making for some fabulous Twitter content.
This all this positive attention quickly shifted as some Twitter users who had started to dig into Jensen and his content and realize that he was in fact the type of person to produce a story with the hopes of garnering mass attention. Since being revealed as a hoax, Jensen Karp has completely abandoned his social media account, however, the tweets still remain.
Although an entertaining two-day-long saga, the velocity at which that Jensen’s fabricated story got media attention and support is rather worrying. What tools does the average Twitter user have to vet stories such as this one? Should news media platforms be held responsible for giving allowing this story to have a larger audience?
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Delish is just one media outlet that did not make corrections clarifying that the incident was indeed a hoax. I find this to be rather irresponsible journalism on Delish’s part.
The “Cinnamon Toast Crunch Shrimp Man” is far from the only example of someone doing/claiming something outrageous to get internet attention, this attention then spiraling into the news scape. Back in March of 2020, a woman named Ava Louise posted a video of herself to Tiktok then Twitter (now deleted) of her licking a toilet seat.
Although Ava got the attention she was searching for, it backlashed as many people were upset with her, including Meghan McCain.
Louise’s main goal was to get on “The View” and although that wish did not come true the story was covered by other large news outlets such as Fox News.
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Unfortunately, Louise’s impact was real. Despite most viewers of the incident thinking, she was ridiculous, few followed suit in her “Corona Virus Challenge,” trying to get Internet fame of their own. Some even testing positive for Covid themselves.
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Despite being two completely different cases, trying to get fame with deception vs. trying to get fame through outrage, both display irresponsibility on the part of the journalists involved. In the case of Karp, not checking the credibility of the source before publishing and then not correcting the story after being proven to be a hoax are two major journalistic faux pas. In the case of Louise, highlighting the dangerous actions, and allowing her to reach a larger audience through articles thus leading to copycat offenders also feels quite irresponsible. I believe that while outrage stories can be fun a journalist must weigh the pros and cons of creating and posting such content. In the end, is outrage media the fault of the outrageous or the Journalists giving the outrageous attention?