It was Saturday, June 23rd. Another quiet day in the small town of Walla Walla, population 31,000. From his mobile phone, the owner of a small bacon and egg restaurant posted a small 27 word comment to his Facebook Page:
I’m not sure why it is surprising that if you or you child are doing things that are disturbing other guests you may be asked to leave.
This was a small town restaurant that only had 789 Likes on their page, but over the next two days there was a monsoon of activity on the page: 51 shares of the post and 398 comments, almost entirely negative.
What was once a positive little Page on Facebook became a hot bed of anger, accusations, threats and talk of litigation.
Just like a peaceful demonstration can turn into a massive mob of unfettered rioting, a seemingly harmless comment can escalate into a seething hotbed of negativity. And as a business owner you have no control over what happens.
What’s interesting about this is that the details of the incident are nowhere to be found. It doesn’t really matter what happened. What matters is that this seemingly innocuous statement pushed the hot buttons of the people in this community around a larger issue of parenting and child behavior and triggered a flurry of responses. None of which are particularly relevant to this restaurant specifically.
What should this small business owner have done? What would you do in this situation where you are attacked online by a community for what you might think is a harmless statement?