Two large marketers, Aflac and the Chrysler Group, are struggling to answer that uncomfortable question in the wake of incidents that took place within days of each other. The incidents, involving remarks on Twitter that were judged to be tasteless, inappropriate and insensitive, point out some inherent risks of social media.

One challenge is the “amplified effect” of social media, said Ian Schafer, chief executive at Deep Focus, a digital agency in New York, citing how, on Twitter, “you put something out and it can be retweeted thousands of times.”

“It’s an age when anybody can communicate to an audience,” he added. “It didn’t used to be that way.”

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