The Dark Side of Social Media

By on April 23, 2019

 Image Source: Unsplash

Social media has had a huge impact on businesses in modern society. All around the world, businesses are now able to directly connect with consumers as well as other business owners. Although this connectivity has brought many people and communities together, the impact of social media is not always positive.

To those who have experienced the negative consequences related to social media, the unsavory side is starkly apparent, as it can have severe and lasting consequences on a business’ success and reputation.

Spreading Hate and Bigotry

One of the most common and apparent misuses of social media is the spread of bigotry and hate to a public audience through these platforms. This has come in many forms, but the most recent and shocking was the use of a Facebook livestream to broadcast a mass shooting at a New Zealand mosque. The white supremacist shooter entered a mosque and opened fire worshippers, killing 49 people while streaming the mass killing through a first-person perspective.

The shocking footage was found and shared quickly before Facebook was able to delete all copies of the video from their pages. Both Facebook and Twitter had been used by the attacker to spread messages of white supremacy, and it was not until after this attack that the pages were taken down. The spread of this video, as well as the attacker’s ability to have a public platform for racist rhetoric had drawn speculation from people who are constantly requesting this type of offensive and insensitive content be taken down from social media.

Due to the common use of social media to organize individuals to incite violence, posts on social platforms are taken extremely serious. Any business owner who shares content that is racist, sexist, homophobic, or transphobic in any way, even if it is on personal pages, will likely face severe consequences, such as calls to protest their business from social rights advocates.

This type of attention and the negative reviews people leave for a business whose owner they perceive as dangerous and intolerant can be enough to ruin a business.

Permanence and Harming Reputations

Another way that social media is used against business owners is by the paper trail of evidence it leaves for any individual.

Whether it is the content you post, share, or like, there is often public record of it all, especially if you’re someone in the public eye — which means everyone must be very careful about what they post. It has become so easy to screenshot photos and posts that as soon as someone sees content that seems controversial, they screenshot it in case the individual decides to delete it after realizing it could reflect poorly on them.

In March 2019, California Representative Devin Nunes sued Twitter for 250 million dollars for defamation and negligence, claiming that the social media platform “knowingly acted as a vessel for opposition research” and is damaging his reputation. Although it’s not uncommon for conservative voices to accuse social media platforms of anti-conservative bias, the lawsuit is an example of the impact social media can have when people post controversial content. This is why social media has come to be known as a platform that can ruin people’s reputations.

As a business owner, it’s crucial to not alienate audiences by posting contentious content or personal opinions that have nothing to do with the business. Sites like Facebook and Twitter provide such a large and important platform for business that they must be used with sensitivity to avoid losing customer and clients who don’t want to be associated with what a business owner stands for. While it’s your first amendment right to say whatever you want, there’s no law protecting your business from the impact your social media presence may have on it.

Protecting Yourself on Social Media

There are a ton of ways that social media platforms can be used to harm others, and it’s important for business owners to protect themselves from “trolls” who often post content simply to get a rise out of people. Individuals who do this are often simply trying to get engagement and to post content that will bring about controversy.

If you are the target of “trolls” or someone who is seeking to ruin your reputation, it’s best to be careful of what you say and not actually give them something to talk about. If you’re on a public platform and someone is making comments about you as a business owner or entrepreneur, it’s best to promptly and politely respond to these claims. Handling each situation calmly and with poise helps set the record straight and lets people know that you’re aware of the issues being brought up and are taking care of it.

The dark side of social media is very apparent most of the time for a lot of people. Whether you are someone who deals with trolls often, or someone who has been the subject of defamatory criticism online, the consequences of these situations can have a very negative real-life impact.

We are still living in an age where we are trying to figure out how to mitigate the consequences to this now essential marketing tool, but until there are more clear lines drawn in the sand, we must be careful to protect ourselves and our reputations.

About Sam Bowman

Sam Bowman writes about marketing, tech, and how the two merge. He enjoys getting to utilize the internet for community without actually having to leave his house. In his spare time he likes running, reading, and combining the two in a run to his local bookstore.
Close

Like what you're reading?

Like us on Twitter, Facebook or Google+ for more!