Thursday, December 23, 2010

The rise of #dickileaks and a girl wanting to be a star

This post appears on my company's blog

The latest social media fiasco is more than just the exposure of AFL players.

Listening, reading and watching the actions of the girl in question, who appears to be @its_k_isabella (now @its_k_isabellas) on Twitter, is a lesson in how an attention seeking teenager aims to turn herself into a household name. As each hour passes, it feels more and more like a viral campaign, with a goal of making this girl rich on notoriety.

I don’t for one second think she planned a media strategy. Like any 17 year old teenager who uses social multimedia to interact with others, @its_k_isabella has simply used those tools that are at everyone’s disposal. However for her, the growth is exponential - as her need for attention grows so does her usage.

Her twitter account only started in March, there were allegations of falling pregnant to a Saints player in May (here and here), she refers to her pregnancy on Twitter in August

Yay! I get to sit on a stool at work, because I'm pregnant.. haha, how cute!
1:06 PM Aug 23rd via web

November rolls around and her Twitter account becomes incredibly more active. She issues a warning to the Saints Twitter account

@stkildafc Get ready for damage control...... !!!!!!!!!!!!!
Tue Nov 16 2010 16:32:42 (AUS Eastern Daylight Time) via web in reply to stkildafc

She mentions some photos

Well well well... Lookie what we have here.. I'm seeing photos.. ?
Fri Nov 19 2010 21:52:01 (AUS Eastern Daylight Time) via Mobile Web

She gets a publicist, at 17 she’s writing her autobiography, she’s on the radio and TV. By December she’s even tweeted her phone number.

It’s either a case of being completely irresponsible on social media, or someone wanting and desiring of attention and constant contact. From the need to create drama, the interaction with the media over Twitter and her attitude to the controversy, I would say the latter.

The publicity machine is in full swing in December. The last few days are off the charts having watched her twitter followers grow from 2000 on the morning of the 21st to 9,500 at the time of posting. She loves the attention and loves talking about it.

Its_k_isabella: "twitter is experiencing technical difficulties. In our terms : you're getting too many feeds!" about 18 hours ago via Mobile Web

The fact that she is the controller of the photos and set to release them at timed intervals has those following the action waiting with bated breath. This is the key to her campaign, but without new photos, it’s short lived.

On December 21 there was an announcement by its_k_isabella that she would be releasing photos at 5pm. Come the deadline, there were no photos. Hundreds of people began tweeting to her wanting more pictures to ogle:

MayainMelbourne: @its_k_isabella so where are the new images? Don’t worry about the police or repercussions… you are far too in now (deleted at the time of posting)

Diamondinvest: @its_k_isabella put them up Don't worry about them Your strong
about 21 hours ago via Twitter for iPhone in reply to its_k_isabella

Mattylp: @its_k_isabella any new photos soon? Love your work ;)
about 21 hours ago via web

The drip feed of content is key and demonstrates her incessant need to be the central focus. Even if at the expense of her own credibility in the process.

What she has been successful in creating is a rallying community around #dickileaks. Having fallen off the back of the #wikileaks scandal, with its own Australian connections, it is a perfect hashtag for the topic.

The scandal and the pictures themselves, have little interest to me. We’ve been seeing this type of sports mischief all year and there seems to be some other issue at play. However there are a few parts to this that intrigue me from a social media perspective.

The first is the heritage of the great Australian pisstake. People want to be as funny as they can across Twitter. (I wrote a post on this earlier in the year for #election2010). Here, we haven’t been disappointed. A constant flow of tweets mentioning #dickileaks, #saints, Riewoldt or its_k_isabella is fast approaching a volume 25,000 within the last 60 hours. The other added bonus is people just wanting to have a laugh at some private pictures that should never have seen the light of day. The voyeuristic element comes into play.

The second component is how she uses her Twitter account. Her account is structured like she’s already arrived. She only follows a handful of people, but has thousands of followers. The mark of celebrity.

She is also using the platform to create and establish relationships with celebrities and the media. She gloats about her appearances, requests interviews and interacts with celebs like they’re old friends.

Its_k_isabella: @3AW693 I'd Like to reply on what Ricky said, thanks.
about 17 hours ago via Mobile Web in reply to 3AW693

Its_k_isabella: 29 Radio Interviews, 4 Video interviews. so tired! need something to keep me going, Considering uploading a photo now, rather than at 5pm?
about 20 hours ago via Mobile Web

Its_k_isabella: @pippy85 Sorry!!! Was on the phone to abc!!
Tue Dec 21 2010 07:57:13 (AUS Eastern Daylight Time) via Mobile Web in reply to pippy85

@RubyRose1 Hahahah yeah! Long story! Care to call? :) x
Mon Dec 20 2010 20:50:37 (AUS Eastern Daylight Time) via Mobile Web in reply to RubyRose1

It’s not the way we usually see things being done. There’s no protocol and the idea of traditional media liaison are out the window. Her no-holds-barred accessibility is worrisome. Not because those barriers into traditional media shouldn’t be broken. It’s because it’s scary to attempt to create fame at the expense of other people as well as yourself. There’s no thinking or concern. It just appears a frantic grab for fame, especially seeing that newspapers and TV are being so diligent in concealing her image and she is happy to do quite the opposite. The contrast between the two is extraordinary. Her self created spiral of destruction means she tweets at the drop of a hat, publishes video diaries and she answers questions on a forum - on which every question is taken seriously.
In today’s world does being someone on the internet now mean you’re someone? Is it really that simple?

The third is its_k_isabella’s desire to create a supportive community network. She wants people to use #riewoldting as a hashtag to gain support. It didn’t seem to take off. There were about 70 tweets at the time of posting.

Its_K_Isabella RT @VinoGuySays: @its_k_isabella Hi Kim, let's start the hashtag #riewoldting so we can keep up with the tweets. Please RT.1 day ago via Twitter for iPad

It appears that if you're a little bit naive, want to be famous and aren't, you support Kim. If you're more on the mature side of life (mentally), you can see the insanity in what's going on.

Yet as time passes and no more photos appear, the community realisation is setting in that there probably is nothing else, her star is quickly dwindling. Her video posted on the evening of December 21st has taken her rising star to a new dimension.

Its_k_isabella: I just broadcasted live on Ustream! Missed my show? Check it out:
6:28 PM GMT+10:00
about 15 hours ago via Ustream.TV

There is no doubt that you want to watch every second of her. Seeing where she can take this train wreck is newsworthy. It’s puzzling that her phone rings every second yet she doesn’t think to turn it off. One clear theme of the video is that she implores people to support her, but support her in what?

We are in the middle of a new media beast. A novice who thinks they can use these tools to create something out of nothing. A descendant of Lara Bingle, Paris and Perez Hilton. Does this mean we should come to expect more of these? Teenagers and fame hungry individuals who want to be players in the media space by tampering with the credibility of other more well known individuals?

New and social media isn’t to be underestimated. This girl has played with fire, and has been warned not to post more content by police with no real jurisdiction over the channel. Will this incident change the way we use social media, prompting us to use it with caution? Will laws change?

There have already been a few incidences this year of similar issues including Andrew Bolt’s accusation of identity theft over fake twitter accounts in his name (see here) and Julie Posetti defending Twitter defamation of the editor of the Australian (here).

Watch this space, because its_k_isabella may have just broken the camel’s back. I am slightly concerned that by next week we will all feel like we've been had. Something just doesn't feel right. But one thing I do know, she can be certain that if you get your own Taiwanese animated news item, you’ve definitely arrived.

dedicated to Kim

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