They call it the Streisand effect, and it happens any time people try to suppress Internet criticism, then see it blow up hilariously in their faces.
As these companies can tell you, sometimes it's better to just let it go.
Chiropractors belong to a medical discipline that may or may not actually do anything to heal people. Despite some evidence that there's value in what chiropractors do, many people think they're full of shit, and they aren't afraid to voice this opinion. One such man, Simon Singh, decided to tell the chiropractic community just exactly what he thought of it in an article blasting the entire profession.
He was probably just jealous.
More specifically, he targeted chiropractors' claims that their services could help children with asthma or colic, and of course they were making a fortune off these claims. Responding like the scientific professionals they are, the chiropractic community sued this man for libel and took him to court.
Most anywhere in the civilized world, you're within your rights to criticize a profession as long as you don't wave your penis at people while doing it. When the courts began to investigate Singh and found that his accusers didn't really have any sort of a case, they turned their attention back to the chiropractors.
"Oh yeah, this'll cure the shit out of your AIDS."
What began as the opinion of one man soon became the interest of the British government, as it began to discover that a lot of chiropractors were indeed not helping anyone but themselves. As a result, about 1 in 4 chiropractors in the UK are now under investigation by regulators for making bullshit claims.
As for the unfortunate Mr. Singh, he had to pay over 200,000 pounds ($311,000) in court fees, almost lost his job, and has been relentlessly badgered by the chiropractic community. But in the end, he did win his court case, and as a final dick-punch to the chiropractors, the judge ended the ordeal by stating that what was originally Singh's opinion should now be considered fact in light of the new evidence uncovered.
Teenager Kimberley Swann started a job one day at Ivell Marketing & Logistics as an office administrator. Since she was only 16 and at the bottom of the ladder, where all people her age are kept so they don't break anything, her day was filled with such fun tasks as hole-punching and shredding documents. Like many teenagers, she was both an avid Facebook user and a huge fan of smileys, so after a few hours of the rip-roaring fun that was Ivell Marketing & Logistics, she updated her status to: "first day at work. omg (oh my God)!! So dull!!"
This obvious attempt at slander toward her employer didn't go unnoticed; the boss of Ivell Marketing & Logistics was monitoring the profile of this 16 year old girl very closely. Two days later, she struck again with the frankly disgusting "all i do is shred holepunch n scan paper!!! omg!" Did this girl know no boundaries? Again she was being very closely watched but apparently had just one more chance. Two weeks later she made the final mistake of posting the damning "I'm so totally bord!"
Finally the boss of Ivell Marketing & Logistics had had enough of these constant, personal, and publicly viewable attacks on his fine company and called Kimberly into his office. She was fired on the spot for her slanderous posts about the company and escorted swiftly from the premises.
After being Tased.
Kimberly didn't actually mention the company by name in any of these posts, so how then did we know it was Ivell Marketing & Logistics that fired her? Oh, right: Because she went to the papers the moment she was fired, and they kicked up a shit storm.
The sticky wicket gets the maramalade.
Let's review. In order for the company to look bad because of her Facebook posts, someone would have to go through the effort of adding this girl as a friend, scrolling down to look at her previous posts, cross-referencing them with her job history and then deciphering what the hell she actually meant. Now Ivell looks bad to anyone who tries to Google the company. You know, like everyone does before using any company, ever.
Hell, just take a look at what images Google associates with Ivell Marketing & Logistics:
Indeed it does.
And of course, the face of the young innocent girl put out of a job for having a social life is right at the top of the list, complete with a link to the story.
Can you see the pure hate in her eyes? Ivell Marketing can.
Still, they got off easier than Horizon Realty...
One of the most valuable services the Internet provides is a place to vent our frustrations without doing something that might win us a one-way ticket to the county lockdown. So when a woman named Amanda Bonnen felt the need to vent on Twitter about the state of her apartment and the exact amount of ass that it sucked, she was doing exactly the kind of thing Twitter was designed for -- thinking out loud in public in order to make ourselves feel better. Her tweet:
"Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon Realty thinks it's okay."
Incoming: A whale of a fail.
Now obviously, as soon as the tweet was posted every Internet user received an e-mail, and a brick was thrown through their windows alerting them to the fact this young woman had tweeted.
CHECK THE INTERNET NOW!
Oh, wait, that's not how the Internet works. Actually, it was going to be seen only by Bonnen's 20 followers, which is half of what most grandmas have. And maybe three of them would take time to think, "Awww, she's having a bad day," before completely forgetting about it. No one with any grasp of how the Internet works could possibly be stupid enough to assume this was a damaging attack on the company.
Horizon Realty, which was in a legal dispute with Bonnen over her living situation, disagreed. The company saw the tweet and called in the lawyers. That'll do it!
Lawyers make everything better!
Well, actually, in the resulting furor the tweet ended up being re-tweeted by hundreds of Twitter users. Then the news picked up the story. After everything was taken into account, it's estimated that the original tweet -- and criticism of Horizon's property maintenance -- was seen by over 2 million people.
Roughly the population of New Mexico.
The legal case against Bonnen was thrown out of court for being too vague, or in other words, the judge told Horizon to stop wasting his time so he could prosecute real criminals. The company was also made to look like complete dicks (the worst kind) and had pretty much eliminated anyone with access to Google from ever using the company. As a final kick in the neck, they never saw a penny of the $50,000 in damages they claimed, and since lawyers don't come cheap, you can be sure they lost money from this court case.
As for Bonnen, it would be nice to assume that her mold problem got fixed but unfortunately her whereabouts are unknown and her Twitter page doesn't exist anymore. Maybe she got tired of the publicity, or more likely, she did what most people do and forgot that Twitter was even a thing.
Or maybe Horizon dropped a shark on her.