Alli Lorensen

There is a sense of panic when someone realizes they don’t have their phone on them. They frantically check their bags, pockets and pockets’ pockets and proceed to give themselves an airport-style pat-down. No dice. Now, it’s time to officially feel insecure; like they’re lacking a fifth limb. 

How will they know what’s happening in the world without constant access to the Twittersphere? 

It’s easy to fall behind on social media because of how fast news travels on it. A seemingly dull newsfeed can blow up at any time. It’s no surprise how quickly the incident with Sean Hannity and Keurig Green Mountain, Inc. spread.

Fox News host Sean Hannity backed up United States Senate candidate Roy Moore, who has been accused of sexual assault by multiple women, and said some of the accusations may be illegitimate. Outraged, many Twitter users took to social media to express their displeasure and demand that show sponsors denounce Hannity’s statement.

Angelo Carusone, the president of Media Matters, tweeted at Keurig, requesting they “reconsider” sponsoring Hannity’s show. The company responded, tweeting, “Angelo, thank you for your concern and for bringing this to our attention. We worked with our media partner and FOX news to stop our ad from airing during the Sean Hannity Show.” 

After seeing this tweet and at the encouragement of Hannity, fans of the popular conservative pundit started their own boycott. Videos upon videos have been posted of Keurig products coming to an untimely doom. Sean Hannity fans from all over have been boycotting Keurig products in a not-so-gentle protest using #BoycottKeurig.

Innocent Keurig products encounter the Grim Reaper through the horrors of being pounded by a hammer, whacked by a driver and thrown off a building. But what did Keurigs do to deserve this unfriendly treatment? 

The rapid spreading of the story and trending destruction of expensive coffee-makers can be accredited to the the power of social media, specifically Twitter. With the near-instantaneous reactions, and ability for people from everyday citizens to journalists to presidents to interact with each other, there comes the danger of making divisive statements that damage credibility. Keurig Green Mountain’s mistake was engaging in a heated response from another Twitter user.

According to a Pew Research Center survey, as of August 2017, 67 percent of Americans receive a portion of their news via social media. Fifty-five percent of Americans aged 50 years or older find their news on social media sites, which is 10 percentage points higher than 2016’s percent. Social media clearly has the means to shape public discourse. 

With an increase in dependence on social media sites for access to news, it is more important than ever to make sure social media news is kept professional and accurate. Companies also have to be careful what they post and of the ways viewers might understand it. In Keurig’s case, the post was interpreted as the company taking sides.

It’s fine that the company decided to temporarily halt its advertising, but Twitter was not the correct platform on which to announce it. It was easy to interpret the company’s tweet as a knee-jerk reaction against a controversial figure. The personal interaction with Carusone portrayed the company as on his side, and responding to his tweet wasn’t the proper way to make the statement. 

Keurig Chief Executive Officer Bob Gamgort sent an email to colleagues after the tweet, putting the blame on the company’s media actions and communications on Twitter as against company protocol. By improperly handling their Twitter account, Keurig placed itself in a difficult situation, and it backfired. 

The fuss the situation has caused, and the number of tweets following the fashion of the #BoycottKeurig hashtag, showcases the incredible power of social media. Keurig’s tweet sparked so much backlash that it eventually prompted a retraction. 

An online survey involving more than 4,700 social media users found that Twitter users typically consume more news than other social media users. Twitter users also act differently by participating more through commenting, sharing and posting at times when events are occurring quickest. 

Because Twitter users have the ability to comment, share and post news stories on the site, nothing is safe from critique and scrutiny. User interaction is on the rise, and with that comes increased feedback. No matter what, there are always going to be people who either agree or disagree with posts while presenting their own thoughts and opinions.

While I may not agree with the torture of coffee-making machines (the saying goes to not bite the hand that feeds you delicious coffee), there is nothing wrong with what people are posting on Twitter. Protesting is a part of social media and freedom of speech. I also now know what the interior of a Keurig looks like, so that was a learning moment. 

This just goes to show how careful news organizations and companies need to be when interacting on social media sites. It is important to get news out in a quick and timely manner, but organizations must take caution to avoid mishaps, angering the public and prompting funny Keurig-smashing videos.  

Alli Lorensen is a junior journalism and advertising and public relations double major. Reach her at opinion@dailynebraskan.com or via @DNopinion