I read of yet another blogger prosecuted and landing herself a criminal record and fine recently for what was deemed to be a scathing restaurant review which was too prominent in Google searches Read All About it Here. It’s not the first I’ve read and I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last.
I know someone who used to review fashion on a blog who worked as a shop assistant for a fashion retail chain, she offered fair and honest reviews of everything she bought on her blog even if that was from the company she worked for and she lost her job for saying that the store’s jeans were an inconsistent fit and they should perhaps work at putting that right on her blog… a criticism amongst thousands of positive, gushing with praise posts which had been evidenced to have prompted people to buy from the store. 4 years of impeccable service, a trusted member of the team and all gone for saying the black jeans fitted better than the white… brand damage, gross misconduct evidently.
I’ve fallen foul of blogging myself, I blog in a professional capacity as part of a network and I voiced my thoughts once on the need for good teachers to be selected because they are good teachers and not because they fit in with the staff room crowd. I was prompted to write this after being engaged in a debate with fellow trainees and at the end the lecturer said that it was more likely you would be successful securing a permanent job if you fitted in with the team rather than you were a good teacher so a poor teacher who made staff room friends would be selected over an outstanding teacher who shyed away from staff room gaggles. I was outraged by this and blogged my thoughts. Those thoughts were then taken out of context and presented by someone (I can only imagine who… let’s just say one word… competition) as a scathing review of my placement hosts which it never was and never would have been and it caused upset to them and I was hauled over hot coals for it but fortunately I was able to explain that it had been maliciously shared out of context and was vindicated BUT that could have put a dampener on my career.
So how free are we to ‘speak’ as bloggers? Not very it would seem, unless we are saying nice, easily digestible things. Even if you are blogging anonymously (the top two examples above were blogged under pen names, my professional blog is not) you are not safe from identification and prosecution or action being taken against you.
I understand maliciousness and how that could manifest itself on blogging or any social media sites but seriously what is the world coming to if we are not allowed to give our frank and honest opinions on the products and services we use? We’re using our hard earned cash to experience these things and we have a right to say it was crap if it was. It’s up to the company in my opinion to allow customers the opportunity to read a mixed bag of reviews and make their own mind up, not to pick out negative comments and prosecute a customer for having an opinon, indeed giving them some pointers for free on how to improve their offering.
1984 – thought police and the history changers are at work. These blogs are ordered to be shut down or change their practice, the offensive comments removed, history changed, sharing of opinion denied. We’re not talking offensive here either, we’re not talking tirades of abuse or name calling, singling out or bullying, we’re talking a pair of jeans having inconsistent sizing among colour ways and someone not being happy with the service they paid for in a restaurant and someone being annoyed that kids are not being provided with the best teachers because they don’t want to be part of the in crowd. Thoughts you might share with friends or colleagues but which are not allowed if they are going to darken the reputation of a business which professes to be customer centric or a service which professes to have the needs of the end user at its core.
Be careful bloggers, the thought police are out there ready to pounce.