I went into talk radio with my eyes wide open.
It’s not a profession for the feint of heart. Every day my radio show on WPHT 1210-AM is three hours of lightning-rod, controversial topics. People get quite passionate and opinionated. You get angry callers, letter writers and what we call in the business- “cranks.”
But sometimes, people cross the line.
I used to ignore it. I figured I had it easier than the family members, co-workers and neighbors who had to deal with these insufferable fools every single day.
But last year I made a resolution to stop this creeping (and creepy) anti-social behavior. For instance, I put on my teacher’s hat and started to aggressively police my Facebook page. I have something like 4,300 Facebook “friends” and get a lot of people directly posting on my Facebook wall, which is then visible for all to see.
I cannot control what people post on their own Facebook wall, but I began to get increasingly annoyed at the rudeness and crudeness of some truly thoughtless people. So like a nightclub bouncer, I began to let people know on Facebook that I would be strictly enforcing some rules:
- If you post something on MY Facebook wall and it contains profanity, you’re gone.
- If you publish a crude or tasteless image on MY Facebook wall that is disrespectful or offensive, you’re gone.
- If you exhibit rude or hostile behavior to me or a member of MY Facebook community. you’re gone.
- If you publish comments on MY Facebook wall that are intolerant or disrespectful of another group (be it a political party, ethnic, race, religion, sexual orientation), you’re gone.
Over the past year, I have purged approximately 200 people this year from my Facebook community and “Insider’s Club” e-newsletter, as well as people who submit comments to this blog. I occasionally “publicize” to my Facebook community when I have blocked and un-friended someone. I do so for two reasons:
To let them know that I am doing as best I can to keep my Facebook wall a place of civil and respectful discourse
More importantly, to remind those people who are getting seriously close to crossing the line that they better shape up
When I do this, I get an overwhelming number of people who support this, as judged by the numbers of Facebook “Likes,” comments and even personal e-mails. It is validation to me that people are sick of this aggressive, hostile online behavior.
One person I quietly unfriended wrote to me and complained I was censoring him and robbing him of rights granted to him under the constitution. Nope, those rights belong to Mark Zuckerberg. He invented Facebook. It’s his platform and he grants individual users like you and I the discretion to filter and block content, commentary and images we find to be offensive.
Another person wrote and said he did not think his posts were that offensive. Again, another person who either chose to ignore my well-known standards/expectations for my Facebook wall…or just felt that my rules for MY wall did not apply to him. And further, he recognized his posts fell somewhere in the mildly offensive category. So what makes you think it is justified to offend anyone? How socially clueless is that?
Crossing the Line
One guy in Philadelphia crossed the line. He began to harass me electronically. I said “enough” when he brought my wife and sons into his vile attacks. I decided I had enough of the hate and contacted the Philadelphia Police because it was starting to seriously concern me.
The Philadelphia Police were great. Within days the found the electronic stalker and visited him personally. They conveyed the message for me that if he did not stop all contact, I would press charged.
For a year, he abided by those terms. But guess what? After a year, he starts up with the hateful harassment. It looks like I will have to take the next step. I will keep you posted.
Another Ethical Dilemma
One Facebook crank that I had to block and un-friend was particularly vile and hateful. I noticed that the Facebook posts and the private hate-filled e-mails he was sending to me after I blocked him were being sent at all hours of the day and night. The majority of his hate messages were coming during the hours when my radio show was on and well through the rest of the afternoon.
I noticed that his Facebook profile indicated he worked for a local company. It was very possible, and probably likely, that he was using his company’s computers to send this vile and harassing messages to me. I do not think the company or the guy’s manager would like to know that one of their employees is using company time and possibly company computers to harass someone.
You can probably see where this is going.
I am seriously considering contacting this company and asking to speak to their president and/or person in charge of Human Resources to ask if they are aware of this employee’s actions on company time.
But before I do anything, I thought this might be an opportunity to have a discussion on ethics with you. I would like your thoughts on either or both of these questions:
In your personal experience, do you think that rude behavior on the internet/social media has gone too far?
Should I contact the harasser’s employer and inform them and show them evidence of this troll’s hostile and vulgar correspondence to me?