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The Silencing of Whistle Blowers and Critics

Whistle Blowers

We all know the challenges that whistle blowers face. They risk having their reputations ruined by companies who have as their only defense an attack on those who reveal their harmful or illegal actions. Whistle blowers risk no longer having a career path since they are perceived to not have a strong loyalty to any potential future employer.

Reviewers and Critics

Even those who provide critical reviews can come under attack from paid trolls or fanboys.

On one occasion I provided a somewhat critical review of a cell phone company that was engaged in a deceptive bait-and-switch tactic that violated Federal Trade commission guidelines. That article received a lot of responses from people, representing themselves as loyal customers, defending the company. They were likely working for a hired online reputation management firm. One never knows how far such online thugs will take their threats and attacks.

The Appeal of Positive Portrayals

In general, reviewers try to offer a positive portrayal in their reports for the following reasons:

  1. People prefer to read upbeat positive material.
  2. The reviewer does not want to be labeled as having an overall negative outlook.
  3. There is always a threat of retaliation through slander or defamation claims.
  4. There is the time consuming, disruptive, and possibly damaging responses from fanboys and paid online reputation management trolls.

Despite the above considerations, I try to be thorough and honest in the reviews I offer.

Mixed Outcomes

A reviewer may write something critical of Apple (for example), such as addressing the working conditions in China that resulted in deaths at factories where Apple products were being made. Such exposure could eventually pressure Apple to correct poor labor practices. However, in the process, some consumers may not be willing to wait for Apple to correct the bad labor practices. Instead, some customers will switch to buying from a seemingly more ethical company. So, someone who is an Apple fan may weigh the potential impact of public criticism and refrain from being too vocal to avoid instigating a mass exodus of customers. In other words, those who value and depend on certain manufacturers or suppliers may not be as critical of them since the long-term goal would be to see the company thrive.

By Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson is a freelance writer and tech consultant in Iowa City. He is also the founder and Director of the ResourcesForLife.com website. Learn more at AboutGregJohnson.com

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