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Don’t Blame Facebook!

Photo of Keredy Andrews Keredy Andrews 09/01/2013

Last night, Channel 4 screened a documentary at 10pm entitled Don’t Blame Facebook, which detailed stories of a number of people in the UK who have been caught out by what they have posted on social networks. From a guy who was refused entry to the US on holiday for tweeting that he couldn’t wait to ‘destroy America’ (meaning that he was going to have a good time), to another who was arrested and charged after posting videos of himself street racing up to speeds of 120 miles per-hour, each account ended in disastrous consequences.

What particularly caught my interest was a woman’s story, also regarding a video recording placed on YouTube, that resulted in her soon-to-be employer withdrawing a job offer. A huge puddle often appeared on one side of a particular piece of road, meaning cars either had to drive on the other side of the road to avoid it, or drive through it creating a log flume-like spray over the pavement. In the video, the lady was driving and her partner videoed their journey down the hill and into the splash zone, soaking a group of children who were standing at the side of the road. The couple maintained that local children wait there to purposefully get wet (and that’s what it looked like to me), but once shared to the world online, the abusive messages and complaints started to gather throughout the video’s comments, within hours. Before too long, the police were involved, with the global media reporting on the ‘cruelty’ as well as the fine and licence points that she received.

A new job looking after disabled children that had already been offered to the lady and accepted was mysteriously revoked shortly after due to cut backs, but she found out the truth a couple of months later - the video and media attention made the company change its mind about her. Whilst the examples in the programme are on the extreme side, there is a real chance that any one of your videos, boos, tweets or photos, that you think is harmless and funny, will go viral… and the attention is clearly not always positive. Whatever your personal views, political stance or sense of humour, there will be someone out there who thinks the complete opposite and your actions or intentions can easily be misconstrued, twisted or even dismissed. So, please carefully consider what you share in the public domain through social networks, it’s not just brands that should be protective of their reputations.