Racial Bias in Social Media and How it Can Affect You

Lillie Daughtridge

Racial Bias in Social Media and How it Can Affect You

Photo by Davide Pietralunga on Unsplash

What Is Racial Bias?

In 2020, Amalia Triantafillidou performed and analyzed an experiment on the effects of social media on the reputation of organizations in racially charged crises. Racial bias is a term used to explain someone or an organization that placed unreasonable judgment on someone solely based on the color of their skin. Unfortunately, racial bias is something that is seen daily among individuals as well as organizations as a whole. Racial biases prove to cause the most damage to organizations and those who were affected by the crisis.

Social media can be known as a place for connectivity and love, but it can also show the opposing sides of society, such as racism. Racial issues are typically emotionally charged and receive much more public attention. These issues always receive extensive media coverage because it is a serious matter today.

What Can A Company Do?

Triantafillidou based her study on an incident that occurred in 2018 when an African American man was racially profiled and accused of trespassing by a security guard at a Doubletree hotel. The guest recorded the incident and proceeded to post the video on his social media platforms. This incident sparked outrage, and quickly went viral. Before social media, the public could not voice their complaints; now that social media has evolved, everyone can view the industry’s successes and failures daily. 

The DoubleTree hotel had several different ways to respond to the racial crisis. They decided to deny the claim and shift the responsibility for the incident to the security guard. They publicly announced through their Twitter profile that the security guard responsible for the verbal attack was removed from the company. 

Due to the current climate and public sensitivity to racial issues, companies must be aware that “misuse of social media during a crisis can add fuel to the flames and tarnish an organization’s reputation” (Triantafillidou, para. 2).  

How To Keep Racial Bias From Happening In The First Place?

In order to help prevent racial biases from happening, organizations can be one step ahead if they understand the effectiveness of different crisis response strategies across three social media areas: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Organizations can have the ability to receive feedback from their audience through comments and likes. An organization can create a post that is directed at a certain niche audience to receive the feedback that they need. Using the audiences’ feedback will make sure that the organization is getting its message out to the right group of people, the people who were offended. 

Photo by Stephen Phillips – Hostreviews.co.uk on Unsplash

Racially motivated incidents happen to most organizations at least once or twice. In order to be prepared for the worst, understanding what communication crisis is will help save companies’ reputation and brand image. This study shines a light on the importance of a company’s social media usage, online engagement with their customers, and the customer’s reactions. 

For someone in the service industry, it is imperative to understand that actions have consequences, and one never knows who is watching. To keep or maintain a company’s reputation, there are specific measures that every employee must take. These biases are easier to handle when all the company must do is change its bylaws. Bylaws is a legal guide of rules and regulations for organizations to follow. If an organization was brought to court, or received public scrutiny, the bylaws would prove that it was not the organizations liability. This means that if a racially motivated situation happens again, they can blame employees for not following their bylaws and guidelines.

Why Should I Care?

Entering the workforce can be a daunting task. There are many factors to take into consideration that some people may not think about when entering the workforce. The company’s credibility is critical when applying to jobs and deciding where would be the best fit. A simple Google search can do the trick to ensure the company is in good standing. For example, if a company has received multiple accounts of racial disparity and proceeds to allow that behavior in their workspace, there is no room to tolerate that behavior. It is important to note if a company has been mentioned in multiple crises when applying to work there. 

Photo by Brittani Burns on Unsplash

Another important topic to research is if the organization’s values interfere with one’s personal values. A person of color should not want to work at a company that does not take diversity and inclusion seriously. If an organization fails to provide an acceptable apology after making a mistake, whether racially or morally motivated, that organization might not be the best fit. It is very important to work for a company that shares the same values as those working there.  Racial bias is a topic that still needs to be researched and practiced in both the professional and personal setting.

Works Cited

Triantafillidou, A., & Yannas, P. (2020). Social media crisis communication in racially charged

crises: Exploring the effects of social media and image restoration strategies. Computers in Human Behavior, 106, 106269. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2020.106269