There are just as many things to celebrate about social media as there are to criticize. The constant is people. Technology is simply a platform; an enabler, if you will. People of all attitudes and opinions decide how to present themselves, and play a role in determining what online culture will be.

Perhaps it’s age, or maybe that I’m on staycation right now, that I feel obliged to comment on reaction to a relatively minor event that took place in Ottawa, yesterday.

After repeated warnings from bylaw enforcement, a popular food truck was towed from its perch on City of Ottawa property where it operated without a permit, a license, or the permission of the business that abutted with the City property in question. The story was covered by CTV Ottawa in a Facebook live video and a subsequent report on the evening television broadcast.

This is where the social media story kicks in.

It seems the first thought of several of those who were outraged by the removal of the food truck was to pitch a smear campaign, flooding the neighbouring restaurants with fake one-star reviews to “run them out of business.” They are convinced that at least one of the many restaurants on the one-block stretch of road is afraid of competition.

Screen capture of an exchange following just one of the suggestions to penalize law abiding businesses with fake negative reviews.

I worry for the future of commerce when people dismantle trust in valuable tools like review systems. These tools exist for rating the quality of products and services offered by a business, not the moral compass of the those who issue the ratings.