Be Careful Not To Hire Conspiracy Theory Nuts To Run Your Social Media: The Shaquille O’Neal Story

I’ve always suspected that most famous people have outside groups managing their social media engagements for them. That is why I almost never follow celebrities on social media sites. What’s the point? At the same time, with the importance of self-branding in the media today, I understand why these outside groups are used. What I don’t understand, however, is why a famous person might entrust his or her social media brand to a group that might just end up making a client look foolish.

Take, for example, Shaquille O’Neal. The former NBA star and current NBA commentator has quite a presence on the web, which is what made it so strange when his personal website and Facebook page suddenly began announcing that Shaq was one of those 9/11 truther types.

There was more like that. On the one hand, everyone, including Shaq, is allowed to think that 9/11 was the work of government conspiracy pulled off by the evil overlords that have been running this country for their own personal benefits. On the other hand, 9/11 truthers are sadly hilarious as a general rule, but picturing the low-voiced, enormous Shaq wagging his finger about holographic 747s and shouting about the melting temperature of steel would be the kind of funny I’d pay real money to see.

Turns out that hilarious scenario will never be, however, as Shaq released a statement saying some yahoos at his social media management company were the ones responsible. Digital Mavericks, the outside firm that Shaq has since fired, also released a statement.

Statement from Shaquille O’Neal: This post was insulting and offensive, and I apologize to everyone who came across it. Once I learned that it was on my Facebook page and blog, I ordered it removed and fired the firm that posted it. I am not and never have been a “9/11 truther.’’ My father served our country and I am immensely proud of the sacrifices people make daily to keep us safe. The events of 9/11 were a horrible tragedy for our nation and it’s a disgrace that anyone would think otherwise.

Statement from Matt Argall, CEO of Digital Mavericks: Our firm helped manage content for Shaquille O’Neal’s Facebook page and blog. Yesterday, one of our employees posted a link on Mr. O’Neal’s social media that related to the tragic events of 9/11. Mr. O’Neal had no knowledge of the posting. Further, it does not represent the views of Mr. O’Neal, our clients or our organization. We sincerely apologize. We have removed the link from Mr. O’Neal’s social media and no longer manage social media content for him. We are very sensitive to the tragedy of 9/11 and apologize greatly for this post.

In the meantime, nobody reading anything on Shaq’s site or social media sites will have any reason to believe that the posts are actually coming from him. Which is what makes celebrities on social media so lame. The truth is that it would have been far more fun if Shaq was a 9/11 truther. Fun and sad, yes, but still fun. Oh well, hopefully the next company he contracts with has some nonsense to say about vaccines or something.

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