Social network claim victimizes SuperAmerica

(Update to this post here. )

“Ready! Fire! Aim!” is the way things work on social media and this week it took its toll on SuperAmerica when Facebook and Twitter repeated a second-hand allegation without even considering asking the question, “is this true?”

It started with a post (since deleted) on Twitter and Facebook from a Minneapolis man, who claimed someone he allegedly knows named Caitlin was denied service at the SuperAmerica station on Post Road across from MSP Airport because she was in full military uniform and it upset local cab drivers, many of whom are East African immigrants.

We heard nothing from Caitlin, nor were we given her name. And yet the comments on the post also relayed second-hand, unattributed information from people who knew somebody with the same problem at the same convenience store. Names were never provided, an early indication that people were lying.

The post was repeated across Facebook as truth.

Snopes.com, the site that debunks viral messages, smelled trouble and turned out to be right.

It didn’t happen.

SuperAmerica released a statement calling it “a misunderstanding.” It could’ve used a stronger word.

“After a thorough investigation and extensive interviews with all those involved, we have come to the joint conclusion that the incident on June 13 at the Bloomington SuperAmerica location was a misunderstanding on both parts. Service was not denied to any military personnel in full uniform. Service was allegedly denied while Caitlin was in her Air National Guard drill attire.

Jack Helmick, president of SuperAmerica stated, “We are deeply sorry if we offended Caitlin in anyway. We are active supporters of our military men and women and would never purposefully offend any of them. We are committed to addressing our customer service procedures at the Post Road store which includes serving all customers including military and women customers.

Dave Boucha commented, “I posted that Caitlin was in uniform at the time of her visit to SuperAmerica, she had her Air National Guard drill attire on at the time. I want to apologize to SuperAmerica for any misunderstanding of information that I posted to my Facebook page stating she was in full military uniform. SuperAmerica has been very diligent in their continuing investigation of this incident, and it is clear to me that they are staunch supporters of our country’s military.”

Collectively, we both want to thank the men and women of our military for the many sacrifices they make to ensure we remain a free country. We thank all of those that showed their support for the military during this ordeal.”

There are better ways to “show support for the military” than suspending critical thinking skills and participating in an online lynch mob.

The drill attire was not military-issued and apparently consisted of khaki slacks and a sweatshirt. SA didn’t say why it denied service, but it appears to have had nothing to do with military service nor cab drivers.

Not that details matter.

On Boucha’s Facebook page, people are vowing to boycott the chain anyway.

Update 3:24 p.m. – Boucha has posted another clarification and apology. For the record, he has not yet responded to messages I’ve left.