Chelsea Clinton arrived at the 44th floor of Hearst Tower Tuesday night (“with amaaaaze makeup and an impeccable blowout,” one fan tweeted from the publisher’s headquarters) and soon began whispering with Randi Zuckerberg in the corner. The Observer, taking notes on the surrounding scene (high heels, designer dresses, crispy cheesesticks), lurked nearby, waiting to speak with her.
“Let’s keep private conversations private,” said Ms. Clinton’s aide. She had materialized on our right and was eyeing our pen.
“First, hear what she has to say,” she said, offering us her e-mail address.
Ms. Clinton had joined Marie Claire editor in chief Joanna Coles for a panel on social media, along with Facebook marketing director Randi Zuckerberg (and sister of Mark), Common Sense Media executive Amy Guggenheim Shenkan and ESPN sportscaster Erin Andrews, to discuss “the perils and the possibilities of living in a digital world.”
Among the first to arrive was supermodel Coco Rocha. With 45,783 Facebook fans (personal profiles have a 5,000 friend limit, she explained to The Observer), she also maintains accounts on Tumblr, Vimeo, YouTube, Google Plus and Twitter. The last celebrated its two-year anniversary two days earlier.
“I just felt like I’d like to have a little bit of a voice,” said Ms. Rocha, whose métier is to be seen, not heard. “It’s letting people into my world and into the fashion world.”
The Canada native (she is working on her green card) kept her followers updated throughout the event, posting a photo of herself and her agent posed in front of windows overlooking Central Park.
Barbara Walters was seated in the audience, somewhat unexpectedly. Her name had been omitted from the invitation because she RSVP’d late, but she arrived as close to on time as anyone.
“I thought I’d learn something,” Ms. Walters told The Observer, admitting she was neither on Facebook or Twitter.
Asked if she thought social media was helping the field of journalism, Ms. Walters, 81, said, “Well, it’s there… so I think you need to know how to deal with it.”
“Truthfully, between e-mails and iPads and the little job I have on the side, I don’t have time for it,” Ms. Walters had explained. She didn’t have time to stay for the entire length of the panel discussion, either.
After Ms. Clinton gave short remarks, she sat in the audience, and Ms. Coles told the audience a Wall Street Journal reporter “rather depressingly” had muttered to her earlier that evening that “these kind of things” weren’t usually very engaging.
The debate surrounded bullying on the internet; Ms. Andrews described what it was like to have a video of her nude passed around online, after a stalker filmed her through the peephole of her hotel room and posted the clip to the internet.
Next on the ladies’ agenda were issues of children’s online safety, which seemed aimed at Ms. Zuckerberg. She stated that age limits exist on Facebook and argued teenagers are savvier than they are given credit.
Ms. Walters piped up with a question from the audience: If she could, what legislation would each panelist propose?
“I thought this was going to be a vacation!” exclaimed Ms. Zuckerberg, who resides in California.
But it is safe to say the night went off without any un-friending. The next morning Ms. Zuckerberg tweeted “such a wonderful girl-power evening & panel,” and posted photos of the event to her Facebook page.
“I went to a very interesting symposium that was mostly made up by young women in the audience with great shoes,” Ms. Walters reported on The View.
As for Ms. Clinton, who made one interjection during the discussion and offered a few lines to wrap up the evening, Ms. Walters said, “She was so articulate, she was so intelligent…this is a girl who has a political future.”
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