On paper, Rachel Berry looked to be the ultimate Miss America contestant. A Chapman University Graduate in journalism, the talented and smart Miss Berry seemed to have it all.
Last week, Miss Oregon Rachel Berry was outed as a fraud. She was found to have lied about her Oregon residency on her paperwork. This is not news…Miss America contestants have been trying to skirt the rules for decades. What makes this newsworthy is that Berry, (Miss Oregon 2012 for a scant 2 weeks) was caught up in a web of controversy that she and her family weaved via social media.
While Rachel Berry claimed to have been living in Aloha, Oregon since October of 2011, her Facebook page told a much different story. Her LinkedIn account showed that she worked for a local news agency in Orange County, and her YouTube account proved that she was working in California while she claimed to be living and working in Oregon. There were Facebook updates of Rachel from Disney World and other Orange County California locations, as well as tweets from her sister, who was obviously her roommate in California. Her social media footprint proved that Rachel was lying when she filled out her Miss Oregon Paperwork. Blogger Jack Bogdanski broke the story last week. By the time it hit the mainstream, Rachel Berry had resigned as Miss Oregon. You can read a detailed timeline with her tweets and Facebook updates here.
The real story here isn’t about a girl from California who tried to change her luck and better her chances by competing in a neighbor state. This is about how social media is changing the way we communicate, and how accountability has to be consistent across all channels. There have already been instances where Facebook photos have been used by insurance companies to bolster fraud disputes. And many jobs have been won or lost by the tweet. This is just the latest indicator that social media is here to stay, is relevant, and is being used as a tool for many to create a more complete portrait of an individual. It’s not enough to look good “on paper” anymore.
Our mothers were right. We ARE what we tweet.