You don't have to be a Los Angeles Lakers player to find your personal business becoming the subject of public discussion in the era of social media.

With selfies and cellphone video, everyone from teenagers to politicians to pop stars are subject to name-calling, pranks and embarrassing video for thousands -- even millions -- to see. Sometimes they are the ones creating what is seen, and sometimes they are the recipients.

On March 24, a video secretly recorded by rookie point guard D'Angelo Russell in which teammate Nick Young said he had slept with a woman other than his fiancee, Iggy Azalea, was posted online. The video, in which Young discussed his sexual exploits, appears to have first surfaced on Russell's private Snapchat feed but has since ended up on Instagram and gone viral.

At a Staples Center news conference Wednesday night, he was contrite:

"I feel sick as possible," Russell said. "I wish I could make things better right away. But I can't."

While 20-year-old Russell, who's been a rising star for the Lakers, may have thought the video was a harmless prank, he's not the first to get burned by social media.

"As new technologies are introduced, people become obsessed with the new toys, the technology," said Karen North, the director of the Annenberg Program on Online Communities at the USC Annenberg School for Communication. "And if you look at it historically, as we get used to it, the obsession is reducing. We are settling in with it, and we're learning what works and doesn't work, what is accepted and not accepted."


But one doesn't have to be a celebrity with more than 260,000 followers on Twitter -- like Russell -- to screw up badly on social media.

Teens have been sending their allegedly true confessions to the SoCal Confession Twitter feed, which features offensive and allegedly true tweets, but has also been known to post pictures of unsuspecting students, who are then ridiculed for an audience of 77,000 followers.

"If you don't want to see it on the front page of The New York Times, don't put it in writing," said Chad Kawalec, president of Hollywood-based Brand Identity Center, who advises companies, celebrities and athletes on managing their public brands. "It's really that hard and fast, because everything gets out."

"It could happen to anyone," Kawalec said.

In December 2013, "anyone" was Justine Sacco, the head of PR for Internet company IAC, which owns brands like, College Humor,, the Daily Beast and Vimeo.

Sacco was going on vacation to Africa and was spending her downtime making smart aleck remarks on Twitter.

But then Sacco tweeted the comment that made her, for a brief moment, the most hated woman on social media and derailed her career and life: "Going to Africa. Hope I don't get AIDS. Just kidding. I'm white!"

Silicon Valley blog Valleywag picked up her tweet and posted it.

Sacco had only 170 followers on Twitter, but during her 11 hours in the air, her tweet -- aided by Valleywag -- went viral, and by the time she landed, she was the top topic on Twitter, which tracked her flight with the hashtag #HasJustineLandedYet. And when she did land, a Twitter user was at the airport, to photograph her.

Sacco lost her job. South African hotel workers threatened to strike at the hotels where she planned to stay. Her family, who were members of Nelson Mandela's political party, told her she had hurt the family's good name.

By putting her comments directly into a phone, instead of having an interaction with other people in person, Sacco -- and Russell -- didn't have the advantage of seeing others' reactions in real time, before what they did was shown to a global audience, most of whom don't know either of them personally.

"One of the reasons is that when we are out interacting with people face to face, there are a lot of social cues available to us. People look at us with surprise, shock or disdain," North said. "We can see it in their eyes and hear it in their voices. People will see the disapproval from others."

And the writer who put Sacco's tweet in front of a much larger audience, Sam Biddle, made his own joke that went horribly awry, about the Gamergate movement attacking female technology writers (and creators and fans). Biddle publicly apologized.

That sort of mea culpa is an important part of recovering from a social media disaster, Kawalec said. But it requires commitment and the willingness to take some lumps.

"It's really less about the event than about how you respond to it," he said. "You have to show that you know what you did, that you accept the consequences and that you want to make it right."

That starts with a sincere apology. Russell and Young both need to acknowledge that they were wrong, how what they did was wrong and apologize.

"And then it's about taking that one negative event and pile on it a bunch of positive events," Kawalec said. "If he plays it right, he can look like a young dumb kid: Play the dumb kid card."

But in the end, we're all dumb kids.

"The thing that works in people's behavior today is that everyone, to some degree, has posted something they wish they didn't," Kawalec said. "So you can play a bit on that with 'you know, I'm human.' But it's got to be real, it's got to be genuine."

Staff writer Ryan Carter contributed to this report.