5 Times Social Media Backlash Made the World a Better Place

Rush Limbaugh had better watch his mouth.Rush Limbaugh had better watch his mouth.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"social media amplif(ied) the concerns of a wave of protesters - particularly women - railing against what they saw as outdated misogyny."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.

Related: 10 things I like seeing in my Twitter stream

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 5 of the stories that have taught us about the power of social media.

Amazon and The Pedophile's Guide Amazon and The Pedophile's Guide 1. Amazon and The Pedophile's Guide In one of the first major online incitements to boycott a corporation, the mommyblogosphere was instrumental in getting Amazon to ditch this book and eventually all books by this author and related content.












New York Times' Coverage of 11-Year-Old's Assault New York Times' Coverage of 11-Year-Old's Assault 2. New York Times' Coverage of 11-Year-Old's Assault
Twitter and sites like change.org exploded with criticism over the way The New York Times reported on the gang rape of an 11-year-old girl in Texas, essentially blaming her for her assault. The paper subsequently published a critical Letter to the Editor about their coverage but did not issue a formal apology right away. They were eventually forced to respond to criticism and admitted their reporting was biased.


Related: Got apology? California Milk Board axes PMS campaign


Milk Board's PMS Site Milk Board's PMS Site 3. California Milk Board's PMS Site
The California Milk Board failed with a site called Everything I Do Is Wrong, which portrayed women suffering from PMS as lunatics. The website came down within 10 days of the social media backlash its creators faced.













JCPenney's Too Pretty to Do Homework T-ShirtJCPenney's Too Pretty to Do Homework T-Shirt4. JCPenney's Too Pretty to Do Homework T-Shirt
Twitter went crazy
when this t-shirt was discovered on JCP's site/shelves this summer. JCP released a statement via their Facebook page apologizing, then pulled the shirt. Women subsequently took to Twitter offering suggestions to the retailer of better slogans to print on tees in the future.









Related: JCPenney t-shirts insult girls' intelligence, and they're not the only ones



Susan G. Komen Foundation and Planned Parenthood Susan G. Komen Foundation and Planned Parenthood 5. Susan G. Komen Foundation and Planned Parenthood When the Susan G. Komen Foundation caved to pressure from anti-choice groups and decided to de-fund Planned Parenthood, the Internet went berzerk. Soon after, Komen issued a false apology, but things had already gone too far. Facebook and Twitter users were disgusted, continuing to flame the organization, and multiple higher-ups resigned over the issue.


- By Carolyn Castiglia
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