The evidence of legal risks associated to companies using social media are predominantly associated with issues relating to copyright law, privacy law, discrimination, misleading and deceptive conduct, defamation and negligent misstatements. These laws vary from country to country and as with any legal issue it is dependent on the interpretation of the law. Not being a lawyer and not having any experience to base comments or judgment on any of these action attributing to social media lawsuits, however I believe in using commonsense one can cast their own judgments.
Greenpeace started a campaign against Nestle which targeted nestle use of palm oil farmed from Indonesia which Greenpeace say is leading to deforestation in archipelago. This seriously impacted on Nestle as their company has previously been promoting their support for environmental and social awareness.
Greenpeace initially started with altering Nestles logo as shown below, does this breach copyright law, and this is difficult to prove.
“To establish copyright infringement in a court of law, a copyright owner must establish proof copyright ownership and proof of copying. Proof of copying may be established either by direct evidence of copying (i.e., an admission) or by indirect evidence showing 1) access to the original work; and 2) “substantial similarity” between the original and allegedly infringing work.”
Greenpeace has since removed the logo from the video only, it stills appears on their website.
The biggest issue was not with the logo but with Greenpeace launched a YouTube video of an office worker unknowingly biting into an orang-utan finger instead of a Kit Kat bar. Legally is Greenpeace discriminating or causing defamation with negligent misstatements? Greenpeace always consults legal advice prior to running slur campaigns and has walked a very fine line in this anti Nestle add.
The YouTube video was viewed 750000 times in the first week which seriously effected Nestle reputation. Nestlé’s Facebook fan base of approximately 92000 was also affected by an additional 4000 who signed into the Nestlé’s Facebook site in the first week all complaining about Nestlé’s use of palm oil, suddenly the company fan base was exposed to negative reports on their products.
The volume of complaints and viewers to the YouTube video and the call from the protesters to boycott Nestles products which at the time was very close to Easter forced Nestle to rethink its manufacturing processes with palm oil. Nestle was forced to announce that it will stop using products that come from rainforest destruction. If you wish to read more please click here.
Nestle corporate image to the public is more valuable to the company and possible more detrimental to the organization then if Nestle was seen to sue Greenpeace. The possibility of negative press associated to legal action against Greenpeace could permanently damage their reputation, so how did Nestle handle this PR disaster. Below is Nestle way to beat social media hostility in a digital world.
Nestle has learnt a hard lesson in Social Media and now is well equipped and prepared to address any negativity to their company in a timely manner.
- Corporate Responsibility (venitism.blogspot.com)
- Under pressure from a Greenpeace social media campaign, Nestle stops using products from Rainforest destruction (daveibsen.typepad.com)