Toyota’s “death by a million tweets”

The Big Money on what Twitter did to Toyota:

Think about it: Prior to the advent of rapidly updated social media, bad news about cars seeped out at the local level. A pattern of accidents here. A sudden uptick in complaints to dealerships there. Like pre-9/11 intel—and, well, like post-9/11 intel—it was difficult to connect the dots. Sufficient evidence to warrant even a NHTSA investigation could take years to organize. Deadly cars could remain on the road for far too long, as an automaker sought to control the damage before the recall news broke nationally.

No more. Anyone with access to the Internet is now a micro-Nader, an antlike information-gathering-and-broadcasting agent who can contribute his experiences and interpretations to the data stream. This is why the Toyota recall has achieved brushfire velocity and stunned a company that, just two months ago, was literally on top of the world, with the most loyal customer base arguably ever assembled by a carmaker. With the monster recalls of the past, it was as if a manufacturer had been hit by a heavyweight punch. Reeling was followed by a determination to fight on, unless the company was knocked out (as Audi almost was). For Toyota in 2009, it was very, very different. This time, it wasn’t the big blow. It was death by a million tweets.

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