Gay Marriage, Chicken Sandwiches, and Social Media Disasters

By Ricky DeMaio

You’ve probably heard by now about Chick-fil-A’s recent social media scandal. If you haven’t, allow me to summarize for you:
Chick-fil-A was being blasted publicly for the company's (and CEO's) stance against gay marriage (which they’ve never really denied before).  Jim Henson Company even ended their partnership with the fast food chain. As a response, Chick-fil-A claimed the puppet kids’ meals toys were “unsafe” for children, which is why they would no longer be served.  When users questioned this, Chick-fil-A was caught creating fake Facebook accounts for the sole purpose of defending themselves.  An official spokesperson has denied this allegation, but the evidence seems pretty stacked:
  • The account’s only activity was defending Chick-fil-A
  • The account was created just hours before doing so
  • The account’s profile picture was quickly found as a stock photo on
  • The account was then deleted

Sound unnecessarily complicated? Yeah, it is.  Whether or not “Abby Farle” was the ghost of Chick-fil-A past, or a community manager puppet account, I’m definitely questioning Chick-fil-A’s handling of the situation.  Their efforts to fight back against their detractors only fueled the flame war on, so much so that their Facebook wall became little more than a battlefield between “liberal commies” and “hateful bigots.”   Clearly their community managers are working overtime now, because all negative comments are being deleted (and the users are being banned from their page).

At Likeable, we stress transparency.  CFA has never hidden or denied the fact that they donate to organizations that try to “cure” homosexuality.  Why did they start now? Personally, I don’t agree with their opinion, but I suppose they have a right to it. And while they could never really prevent the slew of hate tweets and negative comments on their Facebook wall that they’re enduring (or ignoring), they could have at the very least held their head up and saved themselves a LOT of embarrassment.  Instead of just dealing with news stories about their convictions (which they apparently aren’t even brave enough to stand by) now they have to fend off press about how they can’t handle this PR nightmare professionally.

Pinterest hoaxes about “Moonmelon” notwithstanding, it’s very difficult to pull one over on social media. People will follow your digital trail. You’ll be caught. And you’ll be embarrassed.

How do you think Chick-fil-A should have handled this situation?  Share your thoughts in the comments!

PS - I have never actually eaten at Chick-fil-A so I cannot comment on the quality of their chicken. Only their social practices.