How a restaurant owner’s Facebook comment led to Doxxing

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A restaurant co-owner received a barrage of abuse on Facebook after he allegedly criticised a vegan customer (and vegans generally) on the business’ Facebook page. Posting critical views about a customer’s dietary requirements and fashion sense  is probably not a way to show you value their custom. The Facebook comments have escalated to a situation where the co-owner has received personal threats known as ‘doxxing.’

Background

The Courier Mail reported that Tuk Tuk restaurant co-owner Mr Mark Clews posted comments on the restaurant’s Facebook page which allegedly criticised a vegan customer, not just for her dietary requirements, but also for her taste in clothes. The report also reveals that Mr Clews compared ’ vegans to Nazi’s’ with  Mr Clews denying being ‘disrespectful’ and that his comments were taken ‘out of context’.

After Mr Clews deleted the critical posts, a new Facebook page emerged called ‘Tuk Tuk Hunter Valley Honest Reviews’ which had published screenshots of the deleted posts.

Mr Clews told news.com.au he had been ‘bombarded with abuse…and  he had received death threats and abusive phone calls to his mobile phone number, which was published on the campaigners’ Facebook page.’ He said he was told over the phone that a group would come to the restaurant to ‘flog him.’ The unintended consequence of Clews Facebook comments has led to what is termed, ‘doxxing.’

The practice of ‘doxxing’

Regardless of whether the ill-considered comments were taken out of context, angry users have instigated their own form of justice against the co-owner through an online practice called, ‘doxxing’. Doxxing refers to the researching of personally identifiable  information online and making that information public. In this case, Mr Clew’s mobile number being published on the campaigner’s Facebook page has provided another means by which users can directly contact him.

While any threat or intimidation online can potentially lead to breaches under criminal law and the Telecommunications Act, it is important for businesses to consider how they communicate with customers or followers online.

What businesses should do

Businesses need to have a social media policy to manage how staff communicate their brand  online and how to deal with negative comments to mitigate against reputational damage. Both business and personal reputations can be adversely impacted on social media, so it is critical for all businesses to monitor what is said on behalf of, and about your brand online. In the words of Shakespeare, ‘Reputation is hard to get and easy to lose’ which carries even more significance in the social media public sphere.

Please contact me should  you have any concerns with Doxxing.

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