Ah, summertime. The weather is nice. The pool is open. It’s typically a great time to be a human being. And, let’s not forget about ice cream. Who doesn’t love ice cream? However, in the world of social media, the need to shock and surprise has taken viral videos to an uncomfortable and dangerous level.
Not only are these videos disgusting, they are also dangerous. And, because of the need to protect public safety, the authorities are pressing charges against those who have been identified.
Let’s face it. It’s not exactly rocket science to figure out the identities of these people. More often than not, they have posted these videos on their personal social media feeds. And, in most retail environments, there is an abundance of video cameras that were initially designed to capture shoplifting. But, are now easily repurposed to analyzing & protecting the integrity of our food sources.
In more and more states, authorities are now seeking to hold parents responsible for their kid’s behavior. From bullying to truancy, states are more and more likely to hold parent’s responsible for what their kids have been done even when they weren’t in the vicinity.
While, you might think that your kid would never do anything like that, the reality is that kids are susceptible to peer pressure and may not even realize how dangerous and unsafe this latest trend really is.
We hope that you will read this post with your kids so that you both are protected from this disturbing new trend.
Viral videos are both predictable & unpredictable
In the evolving world of social media, the stakes keep getting raised higher and higher. Because of the explosion of content and the large number of people who want to be internet famous, videos with a shock factor have more of a chance of going viral (predictable).
As a result, their peers may suggest all kids of crazy ideas for them to get likes on Facebook or Instagram. For most ideas, the videos are going to fall flat and not gain much of an audience. The more they push the boundaries, the more likely their video is to go viral.
With so many people engaging on social media platforms, it doesn’t take much to go viral for the wrong reasons nowadays. Due to the explosion of content, a video with 100K or 1M views has gone viral
. When you compare this with the number of people who engage with the billions of people who engage with this platforms everyday, that’s a relatively small level of penetration.
But, once 100K people have seen and shared a video, it becomes more likely that a news organization or reporter picks up the story and shows the video across their platform. This insertion into the news cycle really increases the exposure as other people begin to view and share the video.
At this point, the video has moved beyond the small number of friends who initially encouraged creating and sharing the video. For the unfortunate one who is the star of the video, he or she has now become internet famous for all the wrong reasons.
Tampering with food is against the law
In the early 1980’s, there was a serious and significant tampering issue with Tylenol that resulted in several deaths
. Someone (who has never been caught) decided to go around and open up bottles of Tylenol in stores, add a deadly poison to the containers, and then return them to the shelves. Unfortunately, this intentional act resulted in the loss of life of several people in and around Chicago.
As with most viral trends, messing with items in the grocery store isn’t a new or even a novel concept. However, combined with the allure of technology and internet popularity; it is incredibly seductive.
Following this issue, the laws were changed to introduce penalties for this behavior. In fact, it is considered a federal crime to tamper with consumer products
. Soon after this, companies introduced tamper resistant packaging to make products safer. For most, it was to give consumers confidence that their products were protected. And, for those that had been tampered with, they could immediately see visual evidence through either a broken seal or other packaging anomalies.
While kids are familiar with most crimes, they may not even realize that there are many laws on the books to prevent tampering with consumer products. So, while they may think that the grocery store is the only victim. Or, they will go back and buy the item they messed with after the camera is off; the reality is that the impacted confidence is going to create a scenario where charges will be pursued even for juveniles.
Retailers and consumer product manufacturers are going to be especially vigilant in the coming weeks given the likely negative impacts the events will have on their near term sales. For example, during the Tylenol tampering issue - product sales dropped significantly and required Tylenol to invest $100M in improving the safety of their product. While, Tylenol was universally praised for their transparency and response, future brands would like to avoid this experience altogether.
Digital reputations are permanent
Although, there have been many bills that have been introduced over the years that have attempted to allow people to delete parts of their digital reputations, this is not yet commonplace.
Internet search engines have successfully argued against this practice in many cases. While there are still many cases that are pending, the reality is that it can be very difficult to manage a digital reputation that has been sullied by an egregious viral video.
Even if search engines no longer index the articles, there are so many sites that will likely continue to host the content. And, as your kids begin to apply for college, the last thing you want is an admissions counselor finding out that they licked a tub of ice cream in high school to gain internet popularity on Instagram. Or, as they begin their search for professional employment for a recruiter to learn about their behavior.
While they are growing up in a difficult time and are really exposed to similar pressures that every generation has faced, the technologies that are able to digitally capture and permanently preserve behaviors are unprecedented.
Given the interconnectedness of a large segment of the population, it doesn’t take much to go viral anymore. In fact, even having a viral video take hold in your community or a state is sufficient to impact you legal, financially and professionally for years to come.
Let your kids know that while it’s nice to be liked, friends that are trying to convince them to engage in this behavior will be the first ones to dislike them in real life once their reputation is impacted.