Here’s a story that social media experts and media talking heads are sure to discuss and digest for the next several days: chicken pox-flavored lollipops. When we heard about these tainted treats, we nearly hurled up our Sunday supper. Still, we couldn’t help but notice how the mob mentality marketing of Facebook is seemingly unstoppable, for better or for worse.
In what either sounds like a creepy urban legend or the antics of a TLC reality show family, the details of the soon-to-be-fabled chicken pox parties are pretty straight forward. Facebook groups like “Find a Pox Party in Your Area” help parents on the social network find a function where their children can contract chicken pox, while the suckers in question can be found on Facebook and shipped across the country. Doctors say the practice is dangerous (duh!) and could cause a host of other problems like immunity to the chicken pox vaccine and contracting other diseases like hepatitis.
Naturally, this is the kind of apocalyptic news story that media outlets love to hype under the “see, we told you Facebook was nothin’ but evil” umbrella. But the tainted suckers are a much better illustration as to what we’ll believe in, support and buy from Facebook. Now that Facebook has become a social network that doubles as a news network, the sky is the limit for causes, brands and whackadoodles to hype their beliefs and products. The good news and bad news is that people are buying. Yet every so often, the Facebook machine works for the good of the people, too. Arts Weeks held around the country have seen record attendance this year thanks in large part to Facebook’s ability to spread news of free events faster than any other channel.