Whether you like it or not, as your company begins to build a dialogue in social media you have a responsibility. You have a responsibility to your audience and your company to uphold the quality of those conversations. I hate visiting a major media outlet and seeing nothing but lies, trolls and spammers take over a page. It tells me that adding my voice to the mix is of no value to the organization.
I was interviewed this week by WIBC, the local news station. The topic of conversation were the terrible rumors that IU student Lauren Spierer's body was found. It wasn't true, but the lie spread like wildfire.[audio:https://martech.zone/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/11812_afternoonnews_netrumorsspreading.mp3|titles=WIBC Internet Rumors]
It is unfortunate that lies spread… even more so sometimes than the truth. If your company has a blog with comments, a Facebook page, a Twitter account or any other forum for user generated comment, you have a responsibility to moderate the conversation there. You have a responsibility not just to your company, but also to your audience.
Block and report spam sent to your Twitter account (record them to @spam). Don't approve content that is patently false, damaging, or bullying. And challenge issues online that are in your best interest – such as someone falsely criticizing your company. Believe it or not, people will defend a company who is righteously defending itself. And, if all else fails, turn off comments. Better to have no conversation than provide some troller with a medium to damage your reputation.
In the event of Lauren Spierer, the damage was way beyond a company's reputation. As a user of social media, I hope that you take it upon yourself to challenge lies, rumors, trolling and bullying online. A great debate is one thing… but spreading hate and discontent is something none of us should tolerate.
Last note: I don't believe in government censorship of hate speech or the like. I believe those voices, however disgusting, do need to be both heard and watched. But it won't happen on my property and shouldn't happen on yours.