Social media's impact on reputational risk. Customers no longer require the best bargain, and often place values such as equity and inclusion, or environmentally friendly practices above the needs of their pocketbook. (Photo: REDPIXEL/Adobe Stock)

A customer, who happens to have an Instagram following in the tens of thousands, snaps a selfie. In the background are hundreds of cattle packed into a small, muddy enclosure and being fed by a dozen workers wearing tattered clothing. The caption reads, “Bob’s Fast Food imports beef from a factory farm in central Asia where the workers don’t have shoes. You are what you eat, don’t support animal and worker abuse. #humanrights #animalrights #boycottbobs @BobsFastFood”

Within hours, the post has garnered over 1.2 million views and 200,000 shares. The social media frenzy leads to a slot on the evening national news, with footage of picket lines outside one of the largest franchises. Bob’s Fast Food stock has fallen, and there are calls for boycotts across multiple social media platforms. Factory workers at the farms strike and accuse Bob’s of human rights abuses.

 

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