Let's learn from the Bianca Schoombee drama and use social media responsibly
There’s a saying that goes: the internet never forgets. Unfortunately for Miss SA hopeful, Bianca Schoombee, she learnt this the hard way when her old social media posts resurfaced.
This follows after Schoombee’s offensive posts which included racial slurs and body-shaming posts were unearthed on social media, landing the young model in hot water.
Though the Joburg model apologised and maintained that the comments were made when she was only 14, insisting that she’s a different person now, the social media wrath forced her to withdraw from the annual Miss SA competition and her modelling agency cancelling her contract with them.
A few days later another Miss South Africa hopeful, Oneida Cooper, also suffered the same fate when her old racist posts resurfaced on Twitter, causing another social media uproar.
In the recent past, many South Africans including celebrities have lost jobs and endorsements, others faced legal actions due to offensive social media posts.
Another recent case includes local rapper AKA who made claims that Reebok SA did not pay him for his collaboration with the footwear brand for the SneAKA limited-edition sneaker collection. Reebok later contradicted the rapper's statement, stating that they have fulfilled all their contractual obligations related to the deal with AKA.
The rapper also received heavy criticism when he hurled insults at his fellow rapper and arch-rival Cassper Nyovest’s parents on social media. Just a week ago, after a series of tweets, the rapper insinuated that media personality Sizwe Dhlomo's grandfather, Isaac Dhlomo, was an “apartheid spy”.
During a heated Twitter debate with the TV host, AKA questioned how it was possible that Dhlomo's family had a farm during the apartheid era. Like many social media offenders, the rapper offered a public apology.
We spoke to celebrity publicist Jarred Doyle, the CEO of Jarred Doyle Consulting (JDC), a strategic communications and marketing consultancy servicing a wide range of organisations and celebrities, who shares tips on how these situations could be handled in future.
He shared tips on how to use social media responsibly and how to safeguard yourself from "cancel culture".
- "If you mess up, fess up": This has always been my first point to action when talking to any clients, brands or celebrities.There is no point in lying because you will be found out, especially in the social media world we’re living in. If you've made a mistake take responsibility.
- Issue a clear and well thought out statement. If your statement needs an apology, then apologise without anything contradicting statements.
- Make sure you have clearly told the public that you plan on resolving the matter and are giving it the attention it deserves. That being said, don’t fall into a rabbit hole and get caught up in something that is beneath you. Some people will create a scandal for you just to gain clout. Sometimes it's better to simply ignore and "turn the other cheek" especially if you know the information is not factual.
- Do not respond to media inquiries about you or organisation via social media.
- Use prominent media platforms and send out a concise and well-structured statement. Everyone can use social media but not everyone can gain the attention of the media.
- Never belittle anyone. This goes back to my previous statement of apologising with a "but" it shows a lack of empathy and that you, in fact, don’t really care about what you've done but simply that you've been caught.
- Keep a low profile for some time and then re-design your strategy.
- Let the public see you as a positive impact on the lives of others and put your best foot forward.