Today I received one of the abhorrent Liberal party flyers going around the nation which dehumanise and demonise refugees by continually associating their arrival via boat with the term “illegal”. Clearly a political stunt aimed at exacerbating public ‘fear of the other’ at the expense of genuine refugees, in the hope of scoring political points.
Yep, that’s bad. But the story gets worse. The flyer I received was printed by Worldwide Online Printing, who no doubt have made a profit in the process. That is to say, they directly profited from a POLITICAL FLYER which demonises refugees and was delivered to my home.
I have a problem with people profiting off creating further misery for people who are fleeing persecution, so I went over to Worldwide‘s Facebook page and left the following reasonable criticism (mind the typos, I was a little worked up):
A fair and reasonable statement, but one that Worldwide didn’t believe should be left on their Facebook page because their “house rules” do not allow “political comment”. What a load of crap. So it’s OK for Worldwide to PROFIT from “political comment”, but it’s not OK for the public to then COMMENT on their doing so?
Here’s the initial response they gave:
Essentially ‘thanks for the comment Luke, we don’t like you saying that so we’re going to delete it now’.
Well, as you can imagine being censored did not sit well with me. Here is the stream of comments with which I responded immediately after, before they could delete my wall post:
I think my responses were all quite reasonable. A company profiting from party-political propaganda pieces MUST expect a public backlash when those pieces are unethical. This is exactly why such flyers are mandated to have “printed by” on them, so we CAN respond to those who are profiting off it, right?
At this point, a simple “our apologies for any offence caused, we will investigate the issue and make a statement tomorrow” would have placated me – IF they left the comment there. Unfortunately Worldwide Online Printing decided it was not to be so, delivering another generic dismissive comment and proceeding to delete my wall post
But not only did they delete my wall post, they BANNED me from commenting on their Facebook page at all. Surely their PR person should know outright censorship is NOT the answer to valid criticism? Apparently not.
After being censored, I posted the following status on my personal Facebook account in response:
At this stage, a few like-minded people decided to also post on Worldwide Online Printing’s Facebook wall, in objection to both the profiteering off demonising refugees and the censorship of criticism. Unfortunately, these are just a few of the posts which I managed to get screen captures of before Worldwide turned off ALL wall posts.
They then posted this list of “house rules”, essentially an easy-way-out for the marketing team to validate their censorship of criticism.
In fact, on closer observation one can see their “house rules” were only published AFTER the criticism had been censored and I had been blocked.
Interestingly they “encourage comments, including constructive feedback”… I guess constructive feedback doesn’t include valid criticisms.
Making up a set of rules does not make you immune to social backlash, Worldwide Online Printing. Nor does turning off comments on Facebook, especially when you still have both a Twitter account and LinkedIn and they are both listed in your Facebook “about” section.
But to put the icing on the cake, they finally came around to giving the only response they really needed to give to begin with – “We’ve taken your comments into consideration and will be investigating the matter further”.
Now was that really so hard Worldwide Online Printing admins???
Here’s to hoping they make a decent statement about the issue, including an apology to both refugees and the people they censored.
I also urge them to donate all profits made from these abhorrent flyers to some form of refugee support group.