The Hidden Dangers of Facebook for Businesses

The Consequences Of What We Share Online

If you have a Facebook account or if you’ve checked the news recently, you’ll be aware of the chef from Shropshire who has er, “mucked” (lets go with that) up. And if you’re not familiar with this story the synopsis in brief is that she found a client to be a "pious, judgmental" vegan, and took revenge by “spiking” said client’s food.

For anyone who has ever worked in the catering and hospitality sectors you all know that this is not breaking news. Chefs, bar and waiting staff have for decades, possibly centuries, tampered with food and beverages of customers who gave them a hard time. So why has this story received so much publicity?

Whether Laura Goodman, the (now ex) co-owner and chef in question, did right or wrong is not the point of this post; any reasonable person would agree that what she did was at best unethical - but what is not in doubt is that she made the mistake of admitting publicly what she had done. She accomplished this by posting a comment on Facebook.

There is, and has been for some time, a debate around free speech and what is deemed acceptable and what is not on social media. Again, this is not an attempt to put things to right on this subject, on a global scale, but a warning for us as individual people, workers, and business owners.

You need to police yourself and you need to police your business online – will it ever be acceptable to post anything online that is detrimental about a customer? Don’t get me wrong, I know how awful people can be – I have done my time working in bars, restaurants and hotels and there are some people that treat staff appallingly. I had the advantage of working in hospitality before the meteoric rise of social media, so I only ranted about the awful customers in person to fellow staff and friends who would listen. And this is where we should all return to. Having a moan over coffee about a disingenuous client in private allows you to let off steam without jeopardising your business, or your job.

Laura has now resigned – having received death threats, her career in tatters and the reputation of the restaurant hanging by a thread. She is not the only chef who has tampered with a customer’s food – but by sharing her misdemeanour online she has been lynched by the mob. Whilst ethically, morally and legally it is never alright to spike someone’s food or drink, the take away message from this is to think before your write – one update shared online has cost this woman her livelihood.

If you’re 100% sure that you wouldn’t do anything so silly, take a moment to think about who runs your company’s social media. What are your employees sharing online? Is anybody monitoring what is being said about your business on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn et al? If a Facebook update can cause this much havoc to an individual and to a business, what are you doing to ensure that this sort of thing won't happen to you?

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