Sunday, March 18, 2012

Social Media and the Need for 100% Truthfulness: Putin's Tiger Tale Challenged

The Associated Press reported on Friday a Russian environmentalist's, Dmitry Molodtsov, claim that photos and a video of Russian Leader Vladimir Putin shooting a wild tiger in October 2008 was staged.  Molodtsov claims that Putin shot a docile animal from the zoo and offered visual proof to back up his claims.

In the image above, Molodtsov highlights the difference between the tiger purportedly shot by Putin and the tiger which officials say was the same tiger released back into the wide.  Molodtsov, then goes on to offer proof that tiger shot by Putin was the same tiger that had disappeared from the Khabarovsk zoo.  (See image below).

As a Crisis Communicator, I am not here to speculate if Putin had indeed stage the shooting to shore up his ratings, or if the environmentalists has a hidden agenda to discredit the Russian leader.  To me, this is further evidence to support my assertions that we now live in a perfect information environment in which the power of the Internet can be used for both good and bad.

In this instance, the Internet allowed the environmentalists to not only review and scrutinize Putin's account of the incident, but also allowed him to tap on other like minded individuals to provide images of tigers in zoos around Russia.  And if the environmentalist's claims are true, to back it up with accounts that the same tiger has since gone missing.

While the fall-out from this remains to be seen, I am a firm believer that a crisis of deceit is worse than a crisis of competence.  In this perfect information environment, Crisis Communicators (and PR Professionals), must be 100% truthful.

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