Originally Published Risk Management Magazine, October 1, 2010
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It’s not unusual for companies to generate more demand for their products than they can handle. But when that company was AT&T, which has struggled to meet bandwidth demand of its ever-expanding iPhone customer base, the company got a lesson in how social media can damage a company's reputation.
Though the irony was probably lost on AT&T's management, angry customers acting as an online "smartmob" used the very connectivity AT&T supplied to organize a national protest against what they believed was the company's poor service. "iPhone Nation," led by blogger and activist Dan Lyons, issued the following call to arms of users in 2009: "On Friday, December 18, at noon Pacific time, we will attempt to overwhelm the AT&T data network and bring it to its knees. The goal is to have every iPhone user (or as many as we can) turn on a date-intensive app and run that app for one solid hour. Send the message to AT&T that we are sick of their substandard network."