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Of course, the social media landscape consists of more than just what BP is doing — and as with YouTube, BP's halfhearted sallies on Twitter are drowned by a deluge of hostile Tweets. This is partly just a question of quantity, which could be balanced if BP had a larger presence on these sites and more followers to begin with; but since it's too late to do anything about that, the company might benefit by at least putting a more human (and humane) face on its social media communications.
I don't know that discretion is no longer the better part of valor, or at least not further humiliation, in the Web 2.whatever age. On the contrary, I'd say BP is working social media (at least the old-fashioned kind) pretty hard in the wake of the oil spill.