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Red and Black Controversy and Social Networking Backlash: Who's Winning?

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Red & Black's Facebook photo, complete with two protesters in the foreground

Today, in the Red and Black Cafe vs. Portland cops fallout: Any controversy started and then debated on the Internet is bound to spill out past comment boards and into more structured sites of social networking (speaking of, dear Eaters, say whatever you want in our comments, but use of any hate speech directed toward anyone will not be tolerated. Ever. That is all). Though Red and Black Cafe's Facebook page has been flooded with support, the "Boycott the Red and Black Cafe" Facebook page has collected more than 18,000 "Likes" as of this afternoon. Over on user-review-driven Yelp, one-star reviews (and counter-acting five-star reviews) are pouring in thanks to the recent publicity:


A poor review on Yelp does carry weight, as its five-star system gives users a quick and graphic idea about a restaurant, before any words even get involved. Marketing blog Webranking has an interview with Portland Yelper Don Bourassa about how the site filters its reviews, shedding light on how the integrity of Red and Black's flurry of new reviews is upheld. But as far as the larger picture, author Chris Lister expects nothing but a positive social media impact:

For most other businesses that cater to a more general and nonspecific crowd of customers, a politically divisive incident... could quickly get out of hand and through the vast networks of social media sites and negative online reputation lead to a significant loss in business and customers.

... [But] as a system bucking, anarchist establishment, this “negative” press is probably in their minds a great way to get their views broadcast to the masses. As they say, there is no such thing as bad publicity. Especially in this case.

Plus, from the looks of their Facebook photos, the staff at Red and Black is keeping things light, using the kerfuffle to solidify their image and their Facebook page to thank friends for their support. After all, "Haterade tastes delightful when chased with dutch brothers coffee."
· All Previous Red and Black Cafe Coverage [Eater PDX]

400 SE 12th Ave., Portland, OR