When social media goes bad…

SOCIAL media is great for business and has provided PR and marketing experts with a highly effective vehicle for reaching a target audience.

Once the creative backroom brainstorming is over and the campaign agreed, the key messages can be dropping onto newsfeeds across the UK and beyond, courtesy of sites like Facebook and Twitter.

But what about the flip side – when social media goes bad?

There’s a growing trend among Facebook users – uploading or sharing online video nasties.

Images of gratuitous violence, sickening substances being eaten, hate speech, abuse and cyberbullying  – the kind of activities we hope most would describe as abhorrent.

The under 25s on our radar tell us the videos are appearing more and more on young people’s news feeds – and the content is becoming more and more grotesque.

Given the nature of social media the videos are going viral.

And it’s not just videos – a Facebook page has been set up in the North East which encourages people to ridicule others either by sending updates or by uploading pictures and inviting the online audience to join in the abuse.

The page has attracted thousands of fans in just a few weeks and the number is growing by the day.

People are being photographed in the street in one North East town and the pictures uploaded to the page inviting others to criticise the individual’s appearance.

It’s the ugly side of social media and it’s fuelling a gang mentality that seems to many to be acceptable.

But surely it’s still unacceptable to hurl abuse, whether verbal or via a keypad?

Cyberbullying is poisonous and social media sites – by at worst ignoring it and at best merely removing a post – are enabling it.

In a bid to restore values we believe are important we would call on Facebook and others responsible for social media networks to improve their reaction times to abusive posts and where necessary take action against those responsible.

If a post can go viral within minutes then surely removing an abusive post 24 hours or more after it’s been reported seems a bit like closing the door after the horse has bolted…