Nestle is a European confectionery manufacturer which upset a lot of people on Friday. Actually it upsets people quite often, it's a big business, they do that, all of them. But on Friday it annoyed people through its Facebook group, and I'd kind of assumed that wasn't the idea of these groups.
To backtrack a little: the company has sourced palm oil in ways that ecologists like Greenpeace don't much like. So they've adapted the logo of one of the company's biggest selling brands to make an impression.
This was all fair in love and commerce so far. Then some users of Nestle's fan page on Facebook started using the offending logo as their avatar. Nestle asked people not to do so - and when the backchat started, they made a crucial mistake and started getting sarcastic, answering back. There's a report from British publication New Media Age here, which pretty much says Nestle screwed up completely.
I'm not so sure.
You see, although the Internet is considered a great leveller, a brilliant democratiser, and it is both of those things, it also exists in the real world. Forget all that hype about Cyberspace being like the Wild West - the laws of slander, libel and copyright may be more difficult to enforce on the Web than elsewhere, and international boundaries might blur them, but they exist.
And people were, on Nestle's own page, abusing an image trademarked by the company. No, the organisation didn't ask them to stop with the negative comments, that was allowed - it just asked them to stop playing with an image it owned.
Yes, whoever was in charge could have responded better to the backchat. But that person works for the company rather than for the customers, and it's the company's intellectual property that was being defaced.
Sometimes in business and as an employee you have to do things which won't make you all that popular. For my money, Nestle's earlier moves to control its brand was among those things. By all means let's join fan pages of all of our favourite suppliers, but let's never forget they're on duty and they aren't going to start behaving like one of the gang.