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Social Media Backlash: The Twitter and Facebook Crusades That Have Elicited Apologies, Caused Firings and Changed Corporate Policy

rush limbaugh slut, rush limbaugh losing sponsors, social media and corporations, social media backlash, social media and advertising

He might have known his big mouth would get him in trouble one day.

The Christian Science Monitor published an interesting piece about the power of social media to affect corporate policy and advertising in relation to Rush Limbaugh’s Slutgate 2012. Limbaugh has lost nearly 100 sponsors after calling Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke a slut and a prostitute earlier this month. The CSM says, “social media amplif(ied) the concerns of a wave of protesters particularly women railing against what they saw as outdated misogyny.” They add, “As corporate America reaches out into social media more aggressively to market itself and tell its stories, that action opens it up to an occasional opposite reaction: vulnerability to having the medium turned against itself.”

I’m sure even the founders of Twitter must be shocked to witness the enormous effect their platform has had on corporate policy as a result of consumer backlash. But Twitter isn’t the only social network affecting change, of course; petitions on sites like change.org are shared widely on Facebook. Because of the different ways users share on the two largest social networks, each site seems to have a particular focus for user complaints. Facebook is used more often as a tool to promote social justice and political awareness, while Twitter, because of the chance it offers users to “tweet at” corporations, is used to voice consumer concerns. There is some overlap, naturally, since politicians are accessible on Twitter and corporations do use Facebook pages. But generally speaking, Twitter campaigns seem to carry the most impact when it comes to affecting corporate policy, while Facebook was widely credited with aiding in the Egyptian revolution, for example.

Social media backlash has been such an effective tool for change over the course of the last few years, we almost take it for granted now that corporations will respond immediately to consumer outrage on the web. As CSM notes, “With companies striving to use the interconnectedness of social media to their advantage, they have to act more quickly and decisively than in the past to counter negative associations.” The catalogue of wins (and a few losses) for consumers who’ve stood up to corporations via social media over the last few years is impressive. Let’s take a look at the stories that have taught us social media users have the power to elicit apologies from individuals and corporations, get people fired for misbehavior and affect corporate policy overall:

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Main photo via Flickr

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