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How Kylie Jenner should really use her power

On Thursday, a single post on social media was blamed for ...

Posted: Feb 24, 2018 10:23 AM
Updated: Feb 24, 2018 10:23 AM

On Thursday, a single post on social media was blamed for costing Snapchat $1.3 billion in market value. The tweet wasn't from a head of state threatening to ban the app, or the company itself announcing major losses. It was from a reality TV star who doesn't like the platform's new layout.

"sooo does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore? Or is it just me... ugh this is so sad," Kylie Jenner tweeted the day before.

The episode is just the latest evidence that celebrities wield way too much power on social media -- and that the platforms themselves need to help fix the problem.

The influence celebrities brandish on social media today is staggering. Consider this: Katy Perry and Justin Bieber have more followers on Twitter than President Donald Trump or former President Barack Obama.

Earlier this month, Jenner's picture of her baby Stormi got more likes than any photo ever before on Instagram. And celebs don't just capture the attention of America on social media. They also profoundly influence behavior. A 2014 study by Defy Media found that 63% of millennials would take a YouTube celebrity's advice to check out a company or product.

Of course, the relationship between celebs and social media is symbiotic. Stars wield huge influence -- and sometimes earn lots of money for sponsored tweets -- thanks to the social media platforms they use.

Last year, a study by Whosay found that "tier 2" celebrities like the actor Nick Cannon and the model Kimora Lee Simmons are on average paid $32,400 for each post they make on social media for brands. At the same time, the astonishing Snapchat stock selloff shows just how reliant social media platforms are on celebrities.

It shouldn't be this way. The promise of social media was to democratize our public debates by giving everyone a voice. In an open letter to his daughter in 2015, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg wrote that he aspired to "connect the world so you have access to every idea, person and opportunity." But if her Facebook feed is primarily filled with posts by the likes of Perry, Bieber and Jenner, that won't be happening on her dad's platform.

Celebrities also aren't usually our best sources of information. For example, celebs who talk publicly about health issues sometimes lead people to make decisions that medical professionals wouldn't advise.

Take Angelina Jolie's public announcement that she has the BRCA gene, which puts women at higher risk of breast cancer. After Jolie revealed this an article in The New York Times, and discussed her preventative double mastectomy, there was a spike in women getting the BRCA test, but more women didn't undergo mastectomies, according to a Harvard study-- suggesting that Jolie's announcement caused stress but didn't help identify the people at true risk of the disease.

Wouldn't it have been better if all those women had instead gotten their information from doctors?

And while celebs sometimes talk about social issues on the Internet, regrettably, it isn't their usual focus. Wouldn't it be better if our conversations on social media focused on things like what our country should do about health care, immigration and the opioid epidemic, rather than what brands celebs like Jenner are wearing?

To encourage this, social media platforms should build algorithms that prioritize the posts of the people to whom Americans should be paying attention, like politicians, people tackling social issues, and local members of our communities. Platforms can do this by making posts from such people appear more prominently and frequently on users' feeds.

Social media companies should also pay more attention to users themselves. Well before Jenner's tweet, more than 1.2 million people signed a Change.org petition letting Snapchat know they didn't like its new layout. If Snapchat had responded to these people faster, the company wouldn't be facing the losses it just experienced.

On Thursday, Snapchat became a victim of the undue influence Jenner wields in America. But companies like Snapchat are also part of the solution. They and all of us need to start paying less attention to celebrities and more attention to the people in our society who really matter.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 111322

Reported Deaths: 3202
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7796173
DeSoto670178
Harrison484483
Jackson435081
Rankin383786
Madison373993
Lee344979
Forrest296377
Jones283782
Washington252197
Lafayette242642
Lauderdale2376131
Lamar217138
Bolivar198377
Oktibbeha195854
Neshoba1814111
Lowndes174962
Panola166337
Leflore160787
Sunflower157649
Warren152755
Monroe145972
Pontotoc143819
Pike137256
Lincoln135555
Copiah135036
Marshall134826
Scott123829
Coahoma123436
Grenada120038
Yazoo119333
Simpson118649
Union115225
Holmes113560
Leake113340
Tate113239
Itawamba110424
Pearl River108958
Adams104343
Prentiss102619
Wayne98721
Alcorn96012
George93917
Marion92942
Covington92525
Tippah85921
Newton84427
Chickasaw82625
Winston82221
Tallahatchie81825
Tishomingo79341
Hancock78127
Attala77626
Clarke72349
Clay67621
Jasper67417
Walthall63327
Calhoun61412
Noxubee59617
Smith58316
Claiborne53216
Montgomery52923
Tunica52217
Lawrence49914
Yalobusha49314
Perry48122
Carroll46312
Greene45518
Stone45014
Amite41713
Quitman4146
Humphreys41216
Jefferson Davis39811
Webster36613
Wilkinson33020
Kemper32015
Benton3154
Sharkey27814
Jefferson27010
Franklin2373
Choctaw2036
Issaquena1063
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 153016

Reported Deaths: 2633
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson22563372
Mobile14335314
Tuscaloosa10023133
Montgomery9759196
Madison904893
Shelby709960
Lee644966
Baldwin640569
Marshall428248
Calhoun412759
Etowah405749
Morgan396833
Houston364632
DeKalb319628
Elmore310752
St. Clair282142
Limestone270828
Walker268892
Talladega258435
Cullman227623
Lauderdale208740
Autauga201029
Jackson200915
Franklin199731
Colbert192228
Russell19053
Dallas185627
Blount184824
Chilton181731
Escambia171328
Coffee16669
Covington166029
Dale163451
Pike130512
Chambers130143
Tallapoosa128686
Clarke127117
Marion104729
Butler99840
Barbour9889
Marengo97221
Winston90413
Geneva8417
Pickens80517
Lawrence80031
Randolph79814
Bibb79114
Hale74529
Cherokee72214
Clay71912
Lowndes70127
Henry6376
Bullock63517
Monroe6319
Washington62212
Crenshaw59330
Perry5806
Wilcox55912
Conecuh55713
Fayette55312
Cleburne5287
Macon52820
Sumter46721
Lamar4565
Choctaw38712
Greene33916
Coosa1973
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