Corrosive impact of online naming and shaming

Around 50 million Facebook accounts are thought to have been hacked. Picture: John Devlin
Around 50 million Facebook accounts are thought to have been hacked. Picture: John Devlin

We’ve become a naming and shaming nation thanks to social media.

Facebook’s often corrosive effect on society is evident as more and more people post angry criticisms of a business and encourage everyone to share.

And, like sheep, we do.

We don’t pause to check if the claims are authentic before joining the knee-jerk brigade all venting their instant disapproval and demanding the ‘’SOMETHING BE DONE!!!’’’’

We want people fired.

We want businesses closed.

We want people ruined.

The lynchmob no longer carries pitchforks. It wields smart phones instead.

Last week, there was ‘’outrage’’ – of the manufactured, online kind – because ‘‘Costa at the Victoria Hospital refused to give staff free coffee’’ during the snow crisis.

So, was the refusal a beligerent one, or simply a ‘sorry I can’t do that’ for boring reasons of stock control and corporate structures which over-ride any local decision making?

Tone and context are key, but both were removed immediately from the row that followed.

Why stop and think when you have a smart phone and can hit share and add the word ‘’RAGING!!!!!!’’ with as many exclamation marks as you can muster?

Piper Dam also got it in the neck too when someone posted their fury over claims it offered snowed-in guests extra nights at the full rate, and charged a minimum three-night stay too.

And then it was the turn of Premier Inns in Cardiff for not giving NHS staff free rooms after they’d worked round the clock at the local hospital.

The fact hotel rooms were empty simply added a new layer to the online disgust which saw more than one person post that they’d never stay in a Premier Inn again. Well, until the next time they travel, and spot a wee bargain price ...

Interesting response from the company. Their own staff had struggled to get into work, so some rooms were not serviced and couldn’t be used, and those that were occupied had in fact been used by … nurses. Well, whaddayaknow?

And then another gem inviting us to snort with derision, to mock, and sneer.

This time, it was Twitter and a picture of a bloke at a supermarket check-out with a trolley laden with cartons of milk.

The social media experts instantly ripped his character to shreds, until someone pointed out he was buying milk for a hospital which had run out. Same picture, very different story.

I’m tired of the naming and shaming pleas which do the rounds on Facebook. They demean us all. They pander to the lowest common denomiator.

As a 17-year old trainee reporter I was told there are always two sides to every story. Social media has cut that equation by 50 per cent.

The media is also complicit as we waste far too much time chasing up these ‘non stories’ – and so the cycle spins once more.

We can all help to stop it altogether by simply not sharing those name and shame posts.