The Most Hated Man on Twitter

Tim JamesHonestly, I’m surprised this didn’t get more buzz.

We’ve seen celebrities utilize their twitter popularity for good causes. Drew Carey and Drew Olanoff combined forces to raise money for Livestrong. Ashton, CNN and Oprah had their exciting fly net twitter race thing.

Daniel Tosh used twitter a little differently. On his show Tosh.o, he did a segment he called “Is it racist?” in which he showed this video from Tim James’ campaign for Governor of Alabama.  After reassuring us that it was in fact, very racist, he then tells the audience to tweet their thoughts to James on his twitter account: @TimJames2010.

Don’t bother looking up the account…it’s already been taken down.  I don’t think any amount of PR could weather that shit storm.

Luckily, twitter doesn’t forget, and a quick search for his twitter name will show you that people are STILL sharing their thoughts with James (the episode aired over a month ago on June 17, 2010).

You can watch the whole video it here.

Within seconds, James’ reply stream was flooded with messages of hatred and anger.  Tosh even responded hilariously to some of the tweets on the blog.

James abruptly became the first individual (using twitter) I’ve seen get ridiculed on such a large scale on twitter.  In a flash, he became the most hated man on twitter.

Of course the fact that he had a twitter account is what opened him up to this attack.  Because people could @reply him, they felt like they were talking to him, not just about him.

Think about this power.  The power to immediately drown someone’s reputation using the web.  You can’t search James’ name on twitter without some ruthless attacks coming up.

Makes you think about the power individuals have on the web today…and the importance of using that influence responsibly. [insert spider man quote]

It’s also a reminder that by creating an account on twitter, you are opening up a new communication line directly to you.  If you make a mistake, whether you want to use twitter to listen or not doesn’t matter.  People will tell you what they think if they want to…

…or if comedy central tells them to.

11 Responses to The Most Hated Man on Twitter

  1. That episode aired at least a few months ago, but if you saw that guy’s campaign most would do the same. There is no excuse for racism now a days.

  2. David,

    Also surprised this hasn’t had more buzz, first I’ve heard of it. Or Daniel Tosh. (I live in a vacuum, have no life.. what can I tell ya.)

    It is a good example of the power of the Webs, social media. Google remembers, Twitter does too. Along with Peter Parker’s responsibility, there’s also one’s own professional reputation to consider.

    Unless locked, your tweets are open to the public, everything you share can come back to bite you in the ass too. Along with what anyone wants to @reply about you.

    I also have a question about the PR/SM fail. Certainly they hadn’t expected it to go global/viral via CC, but no one in the campaign office had a plan for negative posts, feedback? Didn’t think a FB page (limited to friends only) would be better strategy? IDK.. just typing out loud.

    • David Spinks says:

      I mean I think this is a unique situation in that, when you put up a campaign ad like that, there’s really nothing you can do to turn it around.

      For less extreme cases where a company really just made a mistake, the important thing is that they have a system in place to respond to these complaints.

      As Justin points out in the next comment, whether you have a facebook page or a twitter account, people will talk about you when you mess up.

      Still, by creating an account, you’re giving people the idea that you’re listening. Creating a twitter account or facebook page is the same as giving out your phone number or email address. It’s a place for people to get in touch with you for the good, and the bad.

      • True.. Like you said, an extreme case like this *eek*, nothing can turn it around. Justin is right about the hashtag, good example.

        “You’re giving people the idea that you’re listening.”

        That’s it, your opening yourself up to being more than just a broadcaster. People will see FB and Twitter as ways to connect with you, both to listen AND talk back, good or bad.

  3. Good example for companies to see to understand the power of community. What I would add is that if @timjames2010 didn’t have a Twitter account, the same “attack” could have happened via a hashtag.

    Just thinking that the example above might make companies think “if we stay off Twitter, we’re safe and we don’t have to pay attention to social.” In reality, we know the community can praise or condemn whether you have a Twitter handle or not. #motrinmoms comes to mind.

    Thanks for sharing, David. Another great lesson in this post for public and exec-level figures is anything you do on camera can and will end up in social media.

    • David Spinks says:

      I see what your saying and I thought about that as I wrote the post. I definitely don’t want the message here to be “stay safe, stay off twitter”. I do however, want to get the point across however, that you need to be aware of what creating these accounts means for businesses and brands.

      True, whether James had a twitter account or not, people would have spoken about him using a hashtag or something. There’s a difference between talking about someone, and talking to them. By creating a twitter account, you’re essentially saying, “you can reach me here”.

      By creating this account, you are opening up a communication line. If you’re not prepared to handle what comes through that line, then you should hold off on creating an account until you are.

      You are absolutely right though. This would still be an issue if he wasn’t on twitter. The fact is, if people are going to be talking about you, or to you, you have to be present there in order to respond.

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment, as always Justin.

      • “If you’re not prepared to handle what comes through that line, then you should hold off on creating an account until you are.”

        Absolutely true for individuals or organizations. Prepping for a social presence usually involves more behind the scenes work and resource allocation than people figure.

        Good thoughts.

  4. Rose says:

    “It’s also a reminder that by creating an account on twitter, you are opening up a new communication line directly to you. If you make a mistake, whether you want to use twitter to listen or not doesn’t matter. People will tell you what they think if they want to…”

    So true.. On Twitter you open yourself to the good & the bad.

  5. […] The Most Hated Man on Twitter – Everyone always wonders the power of social media. This campaign against Alabama gubernatorial candidate Tim James from Daniel Tosh shows how much of an impact a Twitter mob can have after a segment titled Is it Racist?, focusing on this video. The candidate’s Twitter account was bombarded with venom and taken down after Tosh urged his audience to tweet their thoughts to the account of James. […]

  6. Jason Peck says:

    DUDE. I can’t believe I missed this. So funny–hard to believe he’s actually serious. The video feels like something I’d see on Funny or Die. No excuse for that kind of stuff in politics nowadays.

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