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BP facing social media backlash Add to ...

I'm sorry, are people mad at us for drilling in the ocean?!? Maybe God shouldn't have put oil there in the first place. DUH. #Bpcares

That's just one message from the Twitter account @BPGlobalPR. Keep reading, and tweets like this soon make you realize that there is no official BP spokesperson behind this particular stream.

The good news: Mermaids are real. The bad news: They are now extinct. #bpcares


The real BP America Inc. Account @BP_America has a much more sombre, and appropriate, tone. With multiple daily updates, it's just one example of how the global energy giant is trying to manage information and misinformation after the massive spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

But with just a few thousand followers and a small group of friends on Facebook, BP's public support in the social media space is shrinking as an online movement against the company gains momentum.

The Boycott BP Facebook group is now hovering around 100 thousand fans. There are approximately a dozen albums of user-generated photos, showing everything from a pelican soaked in oil to images of a BP rig sitting on Planet Earth with a bloody sword, complete with the caption "How does it feel murdering your mother? British Punks!!!"

Facebook commenters on this page are urging everyone to stop buying from BP, and posting articles implicating BP in other disasters around the world. Even reporters are flocking to Boycott BP, looking for sources to voice their concerns in print or on camera.

The backlash against BP is indicative of what has become commonplace in our hyper-connected society. If you mess up, your family might forgive you but the web world will not -- they will hold you accountable. While some companies are looking to social media as a way to clean up and promote their image, the online audience has a tendency (and the smarts) to sniff out the good from the bad (and put emphasis on the evil).

In other words, if you want to find fans on the Internet it pays to be good in the first place. No amount of tweets, slick slideshows, or Facebook updates will save you. Maybe a few months down the road, if BP makes significant progress to clean up the Gulf, an electronic buddy here or there might throw the company a lifeline. However, for the next little while, if tweets like this from @BPGlobalPR are a sign, BP's future looks mostly friendless.

The ocean looks just a bit slimmer today. Dressing it in black really did the trick! #bpcares

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