Background: I maintain a number of websites for various organizations in Magrath - my company, the Lions Club, the Chamber of Commerce and others. Generally things are going well. Valuable information is being provided in a timely and productive manner. Last week I received a letter on a topic of great interest to the Chamber and after removing names posted it to the Chamber news blog.
What I neglected to remember, was that these posts are automatically forwarded to our Facebook page and from there appears as officially sanctioned and approved pronouncements from the entire Magrath Chamber of Commerce.
The letter was never intended to be distributed publicly, even without naming names, and in a small town it was not long before many had seen and passed judgement on the situation, some for one side and some for the other. Again, that was never the intention, and in any case, it was not approved for distribution (even inadvertently) by the Chamber. It was supposed to be simply a letter identifying a general issue that a member wanted to be addressed at some future meeting.
I have personally talked to many of the parties involved, and apologized for the unintended impact.
On the other hand, wow. I often post information (like this apology) and wonder if anyone will ever really see or read it. The feedback received just a day or so after the event makes me realize the awesome power of the social media - with all it's potential warts it also is a powerful tool for good.
So, to summarize:
- We need to be very careful when posting information on the web, despite our best intentions, even with names changed to protect the innocent.
- If a story needs to be told, tell it in the best possible light and try to see how it may be interpreted by those who will end up reading it.
- Despite it all, IMHO it is better to have the discussion and resolve or work on it than to have it hidden or ignored.
That, and .. I'm sorry.