By Derrick Taruc
If you could make $8.7 million with one tweet, would you? I
know I would.
50 Cent, American rapper, actor and businessman, did just that
two weeks ago when he touted stocks over his Twitter account that
he had shares in.
“You can double your money right now,” Curtis Jackson ” 50
Cent’s real name ” tweeted to his 3.8 million followers. “Just get
what you can afford.”
Apparently, followers of Jackson’s tweets did exactly that. The
stock, trading under the name HNHI, was worth just 4 cents each.
After Jackson’s tweets, the stock took off. It hit nearly 50 cents
on Jan. 11 before closing at 39 cents. This boosted Jackson’s 30
million-share to $8.7 million.
“Get rich or die tryin’?” At this point, Jackson is laughing all
the way to “da club” with his “bottle full of bub.” This very
profitable act does bring up ethical questions (without even
considering violations of the Federal Trade Commission Guidelines
for Testimonials and Endorsements). But narrowing the issue to its
smaller context ” seriously considering and following financial
advice tweeted over the blogosphere ” ethical questions become
moot; the issue becomes more about personal responsibility and
If an individual is foolish enough to follow financial advice
from someone they personally don’t know over the Internet ” central
hub of Nigerian conmen and advertisements for Viagra-like
supplements ” then they deserve what they got. Or in this case,
Jackson got what he deserved.
The old adage rings relevant: If all your friends jumped off a
bridge, would you too?
In this instance, many of Jackson’s “followers” ” not exactly a
coincidental designation ” not only jumped but asked, “How
Yes, buyers of the stock got hustled, but Jackson’s a
self-confessed hustler after all: “I want the finer things in my
life / So I hustle,” he sings on “Hustler’s Ambition” from his 2005
album. Followers of Jackson’s Twitter feed allowed themselves to be
hustled, and they shouldn’t be surprised that their investment
benefited someone else rather than themselves.
But don’t get me wrong. Crooks like Bernard Madoff ” who ripped
off hundreds of thousands of investors ” and the top brass of Enron
” who defrauded tens of billions of dollars from investors and
employees ” deserve to be condemned or jailed.
But there’s an important distinction to be made: The two
examples mentioned above were clear-cut cases of fraudulent and
criminal behavior; Jackson’s situation is entirely different. He
was taking advantage of the enormous reach his voice has, one of
the perks of being a successful rap star. And there’s no denying
how far that reach is ” 3.8 million followers and growing ” but
whose responsibility is it whether to pay attention to that voice?
Whose choice is it to take financial advice from the anonymous
ether of the Internet?
Personal responsibility is a rare commodity these days. Everyone
blames someone or something else: political rhetoric, illegal
immigrants, government, video games, parents, tweets ” it’s
everyone else’s fault but our own.
Jackson was not at all forthright with his tweet, but there’s
only so much truth one can fit into 140 characters. Figuring out
where that truth lies is where individual responsibility and common
sense come in.
Photo Illustration by Aaron Castrejon / The Poly Post
50 Cent hustles with Twitter
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