Yesterday I came across two articles on the recent issue of whether Urban Outfitters was stealing designs from the craft sight Etsy.com. I’m not here to judge either one but I do want to talk briefly about the dangers of rushing to judge without looking at all the facts and the damage that is hard to undo afterward. I think this is a valuable topic to disucss and am not going to do it justice here. But it is hard to cover in 140char (even with deck.ly). I may do something deeper later on.

Social media can be extremely powerful in giving a voice to those of us who felt we previously had none. But the danger to that voice is that we may choose not to listen to all the other voices that are out there. This may be the case with the Urban Outfitter/Etsy.com event.

Amber on myaimistrue website posted an overview of the public outcry against Urban Outfitters for allegedly stealing a design concept from a crafter on Etsy.com.  The overview is called “Anatomy of a trending topic: How Twitter & the crafting community put the smackdown on Urban Outfitters”  .  It’s a very good overview.  However, last night I found a counter point of view from Helen Killer at regretsy.com talking about the fact that this design concept is actually not new and may not really be proprietary (see additional information in some of the comments).   Yet the damage is done.   I saw the first message sent out via twitter from two people I respect with the following comments:

1. Awesome ex of Social Media Muscle! How crafting community used Twitter to put smackdown on Urban Outfitters

2.powerful reminder of how social media has changed the relationship between customers and companies

Had I only seen just the overview article, my personal thoughts would have mirrored the first comment.  But having seen the rebuttal, it forced me to reassess what I think about the possible power of the people to “smackdown” a company and how a potential misunderstanding could be changed.  Especially since it seems that the first article is getting more traction than the second based on a quick query of Google where I found all sorts of people condemning Urban Outfitter for this action.

So how can social media help undo the lack of critical thinking that we may all be guilty of when we start retweeting and blogging without looking at all the facts.

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