What Stalin can teach us about social media

By Ned Donovan

The perils of managing your social media presence can be a daunting prospect. A whole industry of “experts” has sprung up to offer advice to those worried about their online image. But is there a better way to manage an online profile than relying on the judgment of 19-year-old interns? History is strewn with individuals who knew how to present themselves to the world and the likes of Comrade Generalissimo Joseph Stalin must surely know more than a social media ninja. We took a look back at the late leader of the Soviet Union to see what he can teach us about keeping our Facebook and Twitter accounts in check.

Tactical cropping


Joseph Stalin learned early on that if you didn’t want to be in a picture with someone, you just crop them out. Comrade Stalin would likely recommend you do the same, don’t even be afraid of returning at a later date to remove that questionable friend from your first term at University.

Be ruthless with your friends list


The Soviet Generalissimo was famous for his widespread purges of the Soviet Party, in which hundreds of thousands were simply erased from existence. You may only have a few hundred friends, but go through them and consider who you really want to be there. Just because you met once at a party does not justify a place on your friends list for eternity.

Be official with your relationships


As Stalin learnt in June 1941, it’s not official unless it’s Facebook official. The twice–Time Person of the Year found out the hard way not to trust your supposed friends, and so it would likely be his recommendation to be clear how public the relationship is. If you choose Open Relationship, however, then you’re just asking for it.

Pick a good profile picture


If there was one thing Comrade Stalin taught us, it was how to create a Cult of Personality. You only need to look through the results for “Stalin” on Google Images to discover his love for a variety of Instagram filters and different poses. Don’t be afraid to use a throwback image either, the scarf is not essential but certainly is a plus.

Look out for subtweets


One of the largest threats to your online presence is the infamous ‘subtweet’ where an annoying Tweeter mentions you without linking to your account. As Uncle Joe said, “If [Opposition] refuses to disarm, we shall disarm it ourselves.”, so block the opposition and then subtweet about them yourself.

Create a five-year plan


Sit down, log onto Klout and look at your score. Are you pleased? Satisfied? I doubt it, so start working on a five year plan of how you can gain followers progressively till you are verified. Even then you should not stop, expand into new hashtags and avant-garde mediums like Vine.

Become verified

Berlin, III. Weltfestspiele

It goes without saying that the goal of Twitter users is to gain recognition from Twitter by receiving a blue tick next to your name. When users come across a Verified user they approach them differently, with a level of awe. Chairman Commissar Stalin placed himself in a position where it was only assumed he was the verified successor to Lenin and so he simply slipped into office. Take a similar approach online.

Forget the past

All too often, newspapers publish embarrassing photographs they have sourced from Facebook or Twitter—this is completely avoidable. Adopt a similar approach to Stalin by requiring approval to be tagged, and regularly comb through your feed to remove any incriminating evidence that could crop up during job interviews. Feel free to change your name to hide. If Ioseb dze Jughashvili can do it, so can you.