Cut the **** — User Feedback Gone Wrong

Published: March 18th, 2013 by Ryan M.



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Last weekend, I was looking for a video game to buy as a gift. I used my smartphone to open up the GameFly app. (For you non-gamers, GameFly is the biggest video game rental service around—they offer around 30,000 games for PC, consoles, and mobile.)

I didn’t find a game to order. Not because there weren’t enough to choose from. I just couldn’t get past the way GameFly was using social media within its app.

It appears that any message posted by a GameFly member (an account can be linked to Facebook or Twitter, or created in-app) is immediately published to one of the app’s front pages. At first, this seems like a great idea: helpful reviews from real-live players! Seamless user interaction! Mad excitement-building for new product releases!

And GameFly’s not alone in adding this feature. Application programming interfaces, or APIs, make it easy for apps to pull tweets, likes, and posts from other programs into their own.

But here’s the problem. There’s zero filtering of vulgar, profane, hateful comments. And trust me, there’s plenty of potty-mouthed posting going on. That means when my 7-year-old daughter opens the app and looks for an age-appropriate title, she’s assaulted with this garbage. And short of deleting the app altogether, there’s not a thing I can do about it.

For me, this was a really negative experience. But it got me thinking. As more and more companies integrate user feedback into their digital marketing strategies, brands need to be aware of what exactly their fans, followers, or users are posting—and where their words are showing up.

That’s not to say you should delete or edit user comments. (As Applebee’s recently learned, moves like these can backfire, and may make you appear untrustworthy.) But you also don’t have to give nasty commenters the spotlight. In GameFly’s case, “mature”-rated games (and their associated commentary) could be sorted into a separate menu. And smart programmers could add “safe-word” filters to weed out bad language.

I’m all for a collaborative user experience. But not when that experience is hurtful to others. Above all, companies should ensure that they’re the ones in control of their content—on social pages, apps, and everywhere else. When a 7-year old has easy access to content that would shock a 70-year-old sailor, something needs to change.

At Atomic, we want to build a great user experience—for everyone who uses our apps. We can help you create content filters and choose features that will best highlight your brand. Contact us to find out how.

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