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News Link • Whistleblowers

Phones and social media turn consumers into whistleblowers

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NEW YORK (AP) -- Look out, Corporate America. Customers armed with smartphones and video cameras are watching when you screw up.

The viral video of a ticketed passenger dragged forcefully off a United flight is only the latest example of bad behavior exposed in the age of social media.

In February, Uber came under fire after a driver posted video of CEO Travis Kalanick berating him. Earlier, a Comcast technician was shown in a video sleeping on a customer's couch, and an audio recording chronicled one man's herculean efforts to drop Comcast service; they are among the embarrassing customer complaints that ultimately forced improvements . FedEx had to respond after video showed a driver carelessly throwing a package with a computer monitor over the front gate. Beyond the corporate sphere, smartphone videos of police brutality have prompted protests and investigations.

Not long ago, such incidents might have gotten a mention on the local news at most, and quickly disappeared. But smartphone cameras and social media have democratized information and shifted power to consumers. Companies can no longer sweep complaints under the rug.

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