Simon Jones: Digi rascals
Author: Simon Jones
The unfortunate case of Pitlochry Opticians in Perthshire becoming embroiled in a bizarre campaign that saw sexually explicit images posted on its Google Business listing is just another example of the perilous digital age we live in.
Of course, the practice had nothing to do with the images and was the victim of a distressing campaign that also targeted other businesses in Pitlochry. Nonetheless, after the photos went viral, Pitlochry Opticians was forced into issuing a denial that it, or anyone from the practice, was involved in any way, shape or form. Although, the perpetrator is unlikely to be known to the practice, or optics in general, that isn’t always the case.
Digital conduct transgressions in the world of optics are on the up, and they vary from nefarious negative review posts to cheeky tweaking of search engine rankings. I was contacted a while ago by a practice owner who had gone to great expense to hire a private investigator to look into the source of several bad reviews on social media and specialist review sites. The investigator concluded the source of the reviews was members of staff at a rival practice. The matter was, as far I am aware, referred to the General Optical Council, but doesn’t appear to have ever been heard.
Until recently, I was of the opinion that the GOC wasn’t prepared for fitness to practise conduct cases based in the digital realm. Given that the negative review case seemingly never made it to the hearing, I still partly am, but an interesting case was heard last week.
Michael Langley, the Specsavers St Albans store manager and dispensing optician whose ‘we want growth’ went viral during the first lockdown, had his misconduct case heard by the GOC’s fitness to practise panel. As Optician goes to press, no decision has been announced yet, but the case should serve as the perfect example of how quickly things can go south when dicing with digital.