Social Media

Trolls, anti-competitive behaviour abound as some business owners fail the conduct test for Facebook groups

Craig Reardon /

Regular visitors to this blog will have seen the ongoing commentary about the strange bedfellows that are Facebook and business.

Strange not so much for the commonly used and effective business pages and advertising that can become lead generation gold, but for the inability of some business operators to modify their personal behaviour in business groups within Facebook.

In a medium where your conflict of interest or impartiality is not always evident, many business operators take advantage of their relative arms length from their businesses to at best self promote, and at worst, troll and even hack their competitors.

Even a casual glance into any poorly administered business group would demonstrate the often infantile behaviour that many group members willingly, and even eagerly, participate in — many with their business names clearly evident.

Successful trolling

Several business owners have reported being forced to leave business groups because of malicious, competitive trolls, while others have noticed security issues following a disagreement with more technical members of business groups.

Sadly it’s not enough for their true business identities to be just a click away for some to abuse, hijack and otherwise discredit the comments of their competitors — all without an iota of disclosure of their conflict of interest.

But these indiscretions are only one part of the problem at hand here.

What’s worse is the inability of some group administrators to grasp the lengths some will go to to troll competitors and to otherwise hijack or discredit their content.

Malicious and anti-competitive

Many seem oblivious to the amount of business that is conducted in these groups and exactly what some are prepared to do to ensure they have the first bite of any business cherry that might be on offer.

Others have little idea of what constitutes fair play between business operators in the same forum.

Most groups don’t even insist that a member discloses the name of their business in their profiles.

How administrators can allow people to join these groups without the fundamental sanity check of disclosing their business names is beyond me.

If they knew anything about marketing, they would understand that it’s in the member’s interest to fully disclose their business name so as to facilitate business enquiries if a reader likes what they see.

The fact that members don’t disclose their business names is as big a red flag as you can wave.

Legally exposed

It’s a view I’ve articulated before, but these administrators may also be exposing themselves to legal risks for failing to properly police competitive activity within the groups they manage.

Given the lack of transparency in these groups, I go out of my way to disclose I am a competitor if I disagree with the comment or post of a competitor for what, to most of us, would be very sound reasons.

Sadly few subscribe to this approach and I remain the only person I know who does so.

It’s all just part of a world where regulation lags abuse by what can amount to many years. And where many fall victim to those exploiting these early and systemic loopholes.

Never miss a story: sign up to SmartCompany’s free daily newsletter and find our best stories on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn and Instagram.

Advertisement
Craig Reardon

Craig has been assisting and educating Australian smaller businesses with their marketing and website requirements since 2002 via his business The E Team.

FROM AROUND THE WEB