No one wants to hear their doctor say they have the "C-word” or Cancer. But there's another C-word that is equally as fearful and the analog in the corporate world, and it's "Cancelled." Unfortunately, cancel culture has taken root in our society. It is cancer in its own right that is metastasized through social media, spread via cells comprised of influencers, social justice warriors, and anyone that doesn't like or agree with your opinion. And it's accelerated by social media algorithms that promote mostly negative posts to boost eye-balls and, ultimately, their bottom lines. Even fake news stories can spread like wildfire via social media and force a company into an apology tour – groveling to the woke mob that just further feeds off your fear.
A Real-World Example
Justine Sacco, the 30-year-old senior director of corporate communications at the publicly traded holding company IAC, was waiting to board her plane at John F. Kennedy International Airport. She was headed to Cape Town, South Africa in 2013 to visit family for the holidays and during her layover at Heathrow, she made a poor attempt at humor via this post on Twitter:
Justine had a total of 170 followers at the time. After her 11-hour flight, while it was taxing on the runway in Cape Town, she turned on her phone to find tens of thousands of hateful comments on Twitter, many were IAC employees. The world-wide, woke mob had gathered to burn down her livelihood in the time it took to fly from Heathrow to Cape Town. Her company IAC fired her by that weekend, citing "hateful statements”. Unfortunately, this is just one of the hundreds of incidents that illustrate how employees' posts can harm their employer's brand.
IAC is a large publicly-traded company that was able to overcome this PR nightmare relatively unscathed. However, smaller companies can suffer a disproportionate impact from the actions of their employees online. What your employees are saying and posting publicly can have real consequences to your brand and bottom line.
So what can or should you do to protect your company from the mob attack?
Companies should take precautions through a sound social media policy and the incorporation of tools that can help you get ahead of a potential issue. Fortunately, there exist technologies to help mitigate the risk of being "canceled". To address the problem head-on, you have to be able to leverage technology (specifically Artificial Intelligence) to counter the algorithms that can make negative posts from your employees go viral in days and sometimes hours.
The first step occurs before you bring on a new employee. You should perform a proper background check of any new candidate's social media posts to ensure they aren't posting hate speech, including racist or sexist remarks online. But more importantly, you need a system that allows you to perform continuous screening on existing employees to ensure they conform to your social media policies.
This can become unreasonable if done manually, and you have more than a couple of dozen employees. Imagine if you have thousands of employees – an impossible task to monitor everything that all of these employees are posting online by a human alone. This is where AI comes into play. By using social media for continuous screening or monitoring, you can add your employees and associate their social media profiles once and "turn-on" the monitoring. The system will scan any new posts daily for risks such as hate speech, bullying, threats of violence, self-harm, drug use, and more. You can even add custom keywords and phrases, for instance, if you want to make sure they aren't talking about that upcoming product release publicly, for example. When a post is flagged by the system you get an alert in your inbox that allows you to take appropriate action such as warning the employee and/or ensuring the post is removed promptly – before it goes viral.
The system will scan any new posts daily for risks such as hate speech, bullying, threats of violence, self-harm, drug use, and more.
Consider this as an insurance policy. For very little investment each year, you can get peace of mind that your employees are abiding by your social media policy, and more importantly, you can avoid the next mob attack.