A few days back I received a message that I felt was pretty spammy from a twitter user Liquid4Health — I will not be posting a link to their profile for reasons of principle. Because I generally like to give people the benefit of the doubt, I went head and opened the message only to see if I could help out the lost user. .

As it turned out, this was a spammer that just kept running the same lines over and over with no user interaction at all. But this was not even the worst part. To add a reliable sign to their nefarious action, they were using the Mozy logo as their own.

Exhibit B – Logo of the spamming Liquid4Health

I will get to the primary point of this post in just a minute, but first it is essential that I provide a bit of back story.

I had to express my shocked disbelief that someone could get away with such misuse of a twitter account. So, being a respectable citizen with the well-being of all twitter users in mind, I immediately reported these Liquid4Health as the spammer they were. I also felt it necessary to notify our respectable industry leader Mozy about the misuse of his logo.

This type of rip off should not be permitted in any way shape or form, this I knew. But what I was not expecting was the wave of support that came as a result. As a matter of fact, there was a wave of outrage concerning this issue and many random RT’s were filled with rage concerning the spammer’s actions.

My good friend and supporter, JdNorton, pointed out that this type of situation strikes at the very ethics of online interactions which is the very crux of the matter here.

We would assume that a company that makes such a big deal about mentioning this on their landing page would be the last guys who would be ripping off the accounts of other companies. They would be doing what everyone else is doing and getting their own logos and making their own promotions.

The fact of the matter is that they didn’t. But the worst part is that some people who joined their MLM did. Now because of this one unscrupulous MLMer, the reputation of the entire organization is in question.

So how does this relate to the subject of ethics? Well, in your business you probably have a variety of people who represent your organization in a variety of ways. If they are tied to your company and their Twitter accounts say as much, then you must consider that everything they say and do will be reflected back to the company.

This is an important thing to consider not just for companies but for individuals out there as well. I recently had the opportunity to speak with a representative speaking for the local government and they mentioned that this a considerable concern they have for dealing with social media in the application of spreading messages.

This is why it is very important that you have a specific way that you plan on working for businesses and you do not stray from this plan. After this it is important to carefully monitor your employees, MLM partners, and franchisees. You will want to make it your business to know exactly how it is that they are representing themselves because everything they do will be traced back to you and your business. This is just one more good argument for having a social media department in your business, home office, or practice.

This is not a post meant to discourage people from using social media, it is simply meant as a cautionary tale. A good reminder to have proper policies in place and have a code of conduct that describes your companies’ online efforts. Don’t make the mistake of going too fast and overlooking this important part of reputation management as your business will be held accountable for the ethics it holds and the ethics of its members.

Thanks for your time and attention,

Josh “Shua” Peters

p.s. There are still copies of TwittFaced, check the link here to see how you can get your hands on this useful information.

This article is written by someone who works on great traps around Columbus, OH.