Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Victim of Online Vigilantism in Singapore - What should you do?

Over the weekend, a sales manager became the latest victim of online vigilantism in Singapore. He was on his way to trading in his BMW 5 Series and had stopped by a Caltex station to fill just enough petrol to get him to the dealership.

singapore caltex $10 petrol incident

Then, in an unfortunately incident of miscommunications, the elderly pump attendant filled the car with $135 worth of petrol instead of the $10 the driver had asked for. His discussion with the cashier to only pay what he asked for was overheard by a netizen who then promptly posted her understanding of the story online. As the elderly pump attendant had agreed to pay for the extra petrol (amounting to $125), Singaporeans were naturally riled up. Within hours, the story had gone viral and online CSIs were hard at work. It was not long before his name, his place of work and activities were laid bare for all to see.

What we can learn from this is that social media justice is swift and that it can be wrong. So what should you do if you are the victim of online vigilantism? There are 5 things we recommend that victims of false accusations do. 

online reputation management

1. Be Open. Openly acknowledge that you are indeed the person being mentioned and explain your side of the story. Once a story has gone viral online, hiding will do no good.

2. Be 100% Truthful. As everything is online, it does not pay to be stingy with the truth. As you are already under scrutiny, anything and everything you say will be verified by netizens. Being caught out as a liar at this point in time will do you more harm than good.

3. Respond Immediately. While it is natural to want to hide and hope things will blow over, 99% of time this will not be the case. So if you have become the trending topic of the day, respond immediately. 

4. Respond on the same social media platform. It is important get your message to the same people flaming you. Even if it will trigger more "attacks", post your side of the story on the same platforms where the false accusations are being carried.

5. Tell your side of the story to the media. Finally, tell your side of the story to the main stream media. Reporters are seen as credible and if they carry your side of the story there is a higher chance that people will believe it.

With the presence of citizen journalists, social media justice is here to stay. As we cannot wish it away, we need to arm ourselves with the knowledge on how to protect ourselves in the event we become victims of online falsehoods against us.


Our online course - Crisis Communications in the Era of Social Media

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