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Facebook and a ‘harmless’ prank

11 December 2012 4 Comments

Global news media is full of stories drawing parallels of last week’s royal hoax to Diana, and perhaps these are not unfounded.  But for this new generation of royal watchers, there is one very big difference from Prince William’s mother’s day…social media.

The suspected suicide of the nurse who was pranked by two Australian DJs quickly resulted in a deluge of angry comments to their radio station’s Facebook page.  Thousands of Facebookers posted critical remarks of the DJs and the station (2dayfm), and it would seem that the station’s crisis communications tact is simply to unpublish the page.

The Inquisitr website reports that before the Facebook page was taken down there had been posted such comments as:
“Your [sic] evil murderers and what’s more evil is that you haven’t even put a tribute page up for the woman your 2 DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian killed but you’ve got a tribute page up on the same day for someone else. Nobody will say Rest in Peace to anyone else until you put a tribute page up for the nurse.”

And, “Hope you are thoroughly ashamed of yourselves you idiotic morons! How disgusting you are! You should be fired and banned from broadcasting forever. Spend the rest of your shameful lives making things better for those two motherless children.”

With comments like this, it’s clear the station had to take immediate action.  But is unpublishing the page enough?  It would appear not.  There are already lots of other 2dayfm branded unofficial Facebook pages and groups.

One very offical looking, branded page has this ‘about message’:  “If you have a problem with us unlike us because we are sick of people giving threats to the DJ’S so UNLIKE US BECAUSE WE ARE NOT SHUTING (sic) DOWN”.

An update on this page says : “This women (sic) over reacted someone wouldn’t kill them selve’s (sic) just because they got prank called like she must of had some mental illnes (sic) to something or hated her life to kill herself. COMMENT IF YOU WOULD KILL YOURSELF IF YOU GOT PRANK CALLED!!! AND LIKE IF YOU WOULDN’T KILL YOUR SELF!!!”

This post has received almost 1,200 comments and 593 ‘likes’.  The page itself has 3,296 likes and 8,006 people talking about it.  A host of other pages and groups is springing up on Facebook too .  “2dayfm murdering scum” and “2dayfm shame on you” are just two examples.

This is a very tragic story, and the two DJs have given television interviews in which they are full of remorse and are visibly distraught that their hoax call might have played a role in a women’s suicide.  This morning the parent company announced it was terminating the DJs’ Hot 30 show and has announced a companywide ban on hoax calls.

It seems the company’s crisis communications campaign is now rolling out. Getting social media right will be the key to its success and simply unpublishing a Facebook page will not be enough.

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