I looked through many celebrity social media blunders to find one that I wanted to write for this blog. When I stumbled upon the title, “Lorde posts a bathtub photo with Whitney Houston’s lyrics,” and I was baffled. Not only was this an utterly insensitive post, but it was funny how coincidental this post was. Lorde publicly apologized on her Instagram story by saying, “I was just excited to take a bath.” She had no ill will when she posted a photo of her bathtub with the caption “And iiii will always love you,” but there are steps that she can take to avoid being misinterpreted in the future. I will use Bowen’s (2013) Ethical Guidelines for Using Social Media (126) to help guide Lorde through ethics in communication.
#1: Be fair and prudent.
Before Lorde posted the photo, she needs to check the facts of her post before she lets it out to the public.
#2: Avoid deception.
This does not apply to her post because she was not trying to trick anyone, she was showing her love for baths.
#3: Maintain dignity and respect.
Lorde was not aware of how Whitney died or she had forgotten at the time, however, she should have checked the facts before posting to induce care
#4 Eschew secrecy.
Did Lorde need to tell her followers that she loves baths? Ethically, she does not need to tell strangers that she likes baths. We need to keep private spaces away from public spaces to avoid misinterpretation.
#5 Is it reversible?
Lorde wanted to only post about her love for baths, the lyrics fits with her feelings. Although the explanation of her post is a simple one, unfortunately, post made public in the internet will inevitably stay forever. In Lorde’s case, I suggest she pause and think about if the post will have the same emotional impact in 20 years?
#6 Be transparent. Paid speech should be transparently identified as such by “(Endorsement)” “(PaidMsg)” or similar phrasing.
She did not use paid endorsement in this post, so this does not apply.
#7 Clearly identify.
Her post does not need to be clearly identified because it was a personal post.
#8 Rational analysis.
Lorde seems like she either did not know what happened to Whitney or forgot. If she waited a few days or asked someone to edit her post, she could have found out and deleted it.
#9 Emphasize clarity.
In her post, she did not use a sponsor.
Lorde did apologies after she got a lot backlash for her post. She disclosed that she did not think about Whitney, but wanted to express how she loves baths.
#11 Verify sources and data.
She did not use rumour or speculation in her post.
#12 Establish responsibility.
In Lorde’s post, she did not establish responsibility. She showcased selfishness and ignorance to the events that corresponds with her post. She should have taken the opportunity to bring awareness to addiction and offer to donate to organizations relating to addiction.
#13 Examine intention.
Her post was not with good intention, it was with the intention to seek attention. She needs to evaluate the many ways she can use social media to make ethical posts. She has influence over a lot of people and can showcase herself doing good things in the future.
#14 Encourage the good.
Lorde can focus her social media platform on bringing awareness to issues that she feels closes to. Additionally, this, will in turn, encourage community engagement in more productive ways.
#15 Consistency builds trust: Consistency allows publics to know and understand you, and you can meet their expectations.
Lorde can re-brand herself and stay consistent with whatever image she wants the public to perceive her. She has a social responsibility as a celebrity influencer to guide her followers in the right path: to goodness.
Bowen, S. A. (2013). Using Classic Social Media Cases to Distill Ethical Guidelines for Digital Engagement. Journal of Mass Media Ethics, 28(2), 119–133. Doi: 10.1080/08900523.2013.793523
Mandell, A. Fans freak after Lorde posts bathtub photo with Whitney Houston lyrics. USA Today. https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/music/2018/04/05/fans-freak-after-lorde-posts-bathtub-photo-whitney-houston-lyrics/491927002/