Don’s Dynamite – Social Media and Your Reputation

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Now, I’m not a great fan of social media but I’ve come to accept that it is just part and parcel of the time and place we now live in.

I must confess though, that when I am made aware of comment and material on social media platforms, I am generally left with one of several of outcomes. First, some of the material is genuinely funny – Second, where do people find the time to post the stuff and Third – the content is such that if it were published in a daily newspaper then the victim of the post would be all over it with a band of lawyers.

Let’s just fast-backwards for a moment. In the ‘good old days’ if you went to say a restaurant for a meal and the meal proved to be less than equal to your expectations, then you generally voted with your feet and never returned to the restaurant.

Let’s now fast-forward to today – no longer do the tech savvy vote with their feet. Before they have even left the restaurant they have posted a damning comment on social media as to the quality of the meal, the attentiveness of the wait staff and so on.

Everyone can have an off day but there’s no stopping the damning post nor the character behind the post. Just pity the business owner.

So to the person who posted the comment, just think for a minute before you make the post on social media and what it can do to a business. Your damning critique of the service you might have expected and not received could impact catastrophically on the business and those employed by the business.

Clearly, in some cases negative comment could be seen as a public service – well at least that would be the pretence behind it and the person making the post would seek to hide behind it, but when it becomes personal, vindictive and plain nasty, then we need to strip away the pretence.

It seems to me that social media has given the non-identity, the disaffected and those who would otherwise not have any public profile, the ability to make comment on a person or business without much prospect of being called on to substantiate their claims. To publish what is at times vile nonsense without in some cases any substance is clearly fanciful, delusional or plain drivel and is inexcusable.

Operators of social media platforms are now being placed on notice as to the exercise of control over what appears on their sites. A little too late but then, better late than never. Pity about the harm caused and still being caused to individuals and businesses around the world.

The real sin in what is happening is simply that there is a substantial portion of the public who access social media sites that are really just not up to sorting the chaff from the hay. A quick read of some of the comments provides necessary proof.

I am reminded of the observation made by a former Prime Minister who said that it would be unwise to underestimate the intelligence of the Australian [read anyone here] voter. Being generous souls we all took that to be a positive comment – me thinks that it was not quite how it was intended.

So, it’s time to stop all this nonsense. It’s time to make people responsible for their actions and, at the same time, make it the responsibility of the social media platform operators to not publish instantaneously or live but to carry out due diligence of what is about to be published.

The clearest evidence of the need for such an obligation can be found in the live feed of the awful happenings that occurred in Christchurch in March this year.

For those who blandly accept what they read on social media, the task is simple – just pause for a moment and, before you hit the button and confirm acceptance of a post, consider the following:

  1. does the material in the post sound reasonable;
  2. does it appear that the person making the post has a vested interest or a public interest in posting the material; and
  3. are you in a position to comment or are you just wanting to add your name to the herd and be part of the ill-informed and perhaps mis-informed.

If you want to post, then do so responsibly and with a good sense of what is measured. Like most things the day of reckoning can appear at any time and often without warning – you or your business might one day be on the receiving end of someone’s vindictiveness….