Have you ever had to deal with a person who blows things so out of proportion publicly that you feel like turning off your computer and taking a vacation? If so, read further. I have an interesting case study for you.
If you have followed this blog for a while, you probably know that I am a huge fan of content curation and Paper.li / Scoop.it. You may even remember the recent guest post I wrote and interview I did for the Paper.li Community.
The other day, a Tweep named Steve contacted me to ask me to credit the right author of an article that he had shared on Twitter and that had been featured under his name in my Culture in Canada Paper.li.
It took me a little while to understand what he meant. When I finally did, I explained to him that Paper.li aggregates content based on what people share on Twitter, not on who writes what.
We exchanged a few more tweets, and Steve continued asking me to take care of the issue. I redirected him to the folks at Paper.li (@SmallRivers), because there really was nothing I could do. Kelly Hungerford, Paper.li’s Community Manager, got in touch with him quickly after, and invited him to discuss things further with her.
A couple of days later, Steve mentioned me in the following Tweet:
— Steve Fisher (@GracingTheStage) May 15, 2012
I clicked the link to find an entire article on the whole issue on Storify. My name was mentioned several times, with a link to one of my Examiner titles!
Here is the screenshot of the entire article (including comments). Click it to see the full-sized picture in a new tab. You can also read the story directly on Storify.
Note: This is an updated version of the screenshot (May 18, 2012)
How Storify and Paper.li handled the situation
I emailed Storify to ask them to remove the story. Here is their response:
Thank you for your note, and sorry for your experience. We have looked into this matter, and this is not a story we would remove or intervene in. That does not suggest that we condone or approve the contents in any way.
Thank you for using our platform and we hope your future Storify experiences are more pleasant.
Their lack of concern for the issue is quite worrying. I like the platform and have recommended it to many people. However, now, I am not sure if I will continue using it…
I had also contacted Paper.li, and knew that they would do something about it. Their way of dealing with the situation actually exceeded my expectations.
Kelly Hungerford and Liz Wilson (Paper.li’s Community Editor), the two ladies I exchanged emails back and forth with, cared about the issue. They were extremely supportive, going beyond the call of duty despite very busy schedules. Kelly, in particular, even took the time to leave two comments under Steve’s story on Storify. (Needless to say that my love for Paper.li has increased at least tenfold as a result!)
All the people with whom I have been in touch about this issue have agreed on the fact that it is a case of public bashing and that Steve has gone over the top. Read the comments under the Storify article, and you will understand what I mean.
Steve has mentioned several times that I owe him and the author of the article an apology. I am still confused as to why.
I tried to help Steve to the best of my ability. Unfortunately, I feel that he does not really want the “misunderstanding” between us to come to an end. As a result, I choose to step away and let the whole thing go.
So, what are the lessons?
As an entrepreneur, I take this kind of situations very seriously. First of all, I am not perfect. I could have made the same mistakes as Steve did. And second, I believe that life is an ever-ending learning playground. The more lessons I learn, the better armed I am to deal with unforeseen circumstances.
We all talk about how social media makes us more and more irresponsible. But, as I always say, how can tools be accountable for our behaviors?
- It is OK to have concerns and voice them on social networks. However, you have to do it in a respectful and non-threatening manner.
- Before deciding to attack people publicly, make sure you have valid reasons — and know who you are talking to. While I am only a small fish in a big pond, the situation could have taken a much different turn if Steve had set his sights on a person with more followers and advocates.
- Disagreeing with someone online is fine. However, resorting to public bashing just because you think you can is NOT.
Being hidden behind a computer screen does not allow you to forget your responsibilities towards your audience. Twitter is like any other social network. It is a public forum. A lot of people can read your Tweets. They will be quick to pass permanent judgment on your nasty mistakes, even if you apologize a hundred times and try to make up for them at least ten times more.
Social media has allowed us to connect with millions of people around the world. Let us not turn it into another failed human experiment.
It really is time to go back to the basics and learn the value of respectful and compassionate relationships.
Now, it is your turn to speak. Has something similar happened to you? What did you learn from the experience? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.