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The Hazards of Social Media Engagement

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As one university dining department discovered, engaging with young customers on social media can prove irresistible to would-be comics and hackers.

It's a cautionary tale for the social media age. At Boston University, the dining department has been exceptionally proactive in using Twitter to engage students. But perhaps inevitably, one student set up a fake site that intercepted enough traffic and fooled enough students with irreverent Tweets about BU Dining Services to prompt a cease-and-desist order, according to the school's The Quad campus paper.

BU Dining sent the faux BU Dining Tweeter a message requiring him to modify his handle to clearly indicate it is a parody account. The BU poser-Tweeter seemed fairly harmless (and, frankly, pretty lame: his faux reply to one student's inquiry about why fresh Parmesan cheese disappeared from one dining hall was "Because it's Parma-Gone!" Dude, stop it before my sides split…).

However, more seriously, this is an issue that can increasingly be expected to vex forward-looking dining operators, especially in the college segment where dumping on dining is a venerable tradition and many students have the requisite technical knowhow to pose a problem. Directors who have found creative/effective ways to deal with Tweeter jokesters are invited to drop me a line in the comments below.

Discuss this Blog Entry 1

Tim Hatahway (not verified)
on Apr 22, 2013

Reading the link to the blog article they mention they got an email telling them to change their name, I would assume that email was from Twitter? If so the system works! I've see a lot of colleges have parody accounts, and it looks like if you reach out to Twitter the problem (though sometimes small) can be fixed.

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Mike Buzalka

Mike Buzalka is executive features editor of Food Management and has served the magazine in this capacity since 1998. Before that, he was executive editor of The Foodservice..
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