The Sharp Sword of Social Media
The advent of social media in the early 2000’s has had a profound effect on how we as a society live. Because we have a tendency to believe everything we read, myths become fact. Statistics posted also become known as “fact”. And, worst of all, negative comments about you, your business, your family or friends becomes “fact” with sometimes very damaging results.
Take “Facts” with a Grain of Salt
Because there is no vetting of comments, people are free to post whatever they want including lies, exaggerations and sharing information that may or may not be accurate. The same information can be shared over and over. As an example, in November 2012 someone posted some erroneous advice that if you post a legal notice on your Facebook wall or Instagram feed that it will protect you from having all your posts and photos made public. To lend credibility to the fake post, it references the original source of information as being Channel 13 News. Later it was changed to the Channel 9 News. Either way, the story was completely false and without merit. Yet, here we are nearly seven years later and the same silly post shows up week after week on Facebook causing a social media gullible society to actually believe it is true without attempting to search for the truth by visiting www.snopes.com and fact checking before continuing to spread this innocent lie. In this case, no one gets hurt. They simply waste time posting the fake message and waste the time of others who also post it and it goes on and on and on living in perpetuity even though it is not even remotely true.
Posts That Hurt
Malicious posts that are meant to hurt people, hurt businesses or cause harm are indeed the worst. You likely remember high school days when ugly rumors swirled about the girl who slept with the football team. Back in the day, such rumors were limited to school campuses and the neighborhood. Posts like that today are viewed by the girl’s parents, cousins, aunts, uncles, close friends and grandparents who may be spread throughout the country. The footprint of damage is much wider. It leaves the girl publicly defending herself against something that likely wasn’t even true to begin with. It’s a very sharp sword that leaves devastating defamation after the attack. For a business, malicious comments can do even more damage. It can wipe away years of good deeds, good will, good business and it can even wipe away good people who may be forced to close their business.
This results in employees losing their job as well. Remember, the things you read may not always be true. The things you post should be true or should not posted at all. Don’t share hearsay. Don’t share gossip. Don’t share things that you feel might be hurtful to anyone.
Think about what you are posting. Is it hurtful to a person or a business? Is it something that you know for a fact to be true? Have you done your homework if it seems sketchy?
Here is an example of a sketchy post:
For every person that you forward this e-mail to, Microsoft will pay you $245.00 For every person that you sent it to that forwards it on, Microsoft will pay you $243.00 and for every third person that receives it, You will be paid $241.00. Within two weeks, Microsoft will contact you for your address and then send you a check.
Think about this offer. What logic is there in Microsoft paying out this money? Do you think Microsoft shareholders would approve of this massive amount of money being paid out? If it seems too good to be true, look it up BEFORE you post it. If you can’t verify it, don’t post it.
If you had a bad experience with a vendor and decide to post about it on Facebook, what is your real intent? Is it to warn others? Or, is it to teach the vendor a lesson? Or, is it simply to be mean spirited? What is it that you hope to accomplish that would be more beneficial than picking up the phone and discussing the issue one-on-one with the vendor?
In closing, the phrase, “I’ll Yelp you” has become synonymous with threatening a business with a bad review. While review sites and social media are both great additions to society, don’t use them to disparage a business. You wouldn’t like it to happen to your business. Retaliation using the internet can go both ways and you need to remember that before you click that POST button.