When social media turns bad

We talk a lot here about the benefits social media can bring to an organisation: reaching a wider audience, starting a conversation with your customers, collaborating with partners…

guardian-logoBut there’s a darker side to social media too. This week’s Media Guardian has an article by James Silver that talks about the abuse some journalists receive when their articles are put up for comment online.

One blogger, Emily Gould, was “bombarded with vitriolic messages” when she wrote an article for the New York Times Magazine.  The journalist yasmin-alibhai-brown1Yasmin Alibhai-Brown said she felt like a “wreck” for days after comments appeared on a column she’d written about the white working-class.

Predictably, Silver’s article itself has attracted unsympathetic comments such as “Any ‘journalist’ upset about responses to a story is probably too delicate a little blossom to be in the business in the first place” and “Journalists (and especially columnists) need to get over themselves and stop whining”.

The Internet has certainly changed the relationship between journalists and their readers – for the worse, some would argue. It’s one thing to engage in lively debate with your audience or your customers, and quite another to sit on the receiving end of abuse that can be read by millions of people. Any organisation wanting to have a debate with its customers needs to tread with caution. It’s not easy to put the genie back in the bottle.

Leave a comment