Nestle becomes target in social media firestorm

NEW YORK Nestle is getting flak from environmental activists after allegations surfaced that the confectionary giant purchased palm oil from a company that was destroying the Indonesian rain forest.

Greenpeace International -- which has led protests against the company -- said that although Nestle since has ceased its purchases of palm oil from the firm (which accounted for slightly more than 1% of the company's overall palm oil purchases), the damage cannot be mitigated. The advocacy group brought its campaign against Nestle to the Internet, including mudslinging on such social networking sites as YouTube and Facebook. Shortly after Greenpeace released a report on Nestle's palm oil use, the group posted a mock commercial depicting the candy maker as a killer, in addition to posting messages on Facebook, protesting its products. 

Meanwhile, Nestle has requested the mock commercial and logos be removed from search engines and social media, citing copyright infringement, but such damaging publicity, experts told the Wall Street Journal, really could tarnish Nestle's reputation, and suggested the company suspend its social media outlets.

"We, like Greenpeace and many others, abhor destruction of the rain forests, and will not source from companies where there is verifiable evidence of environmental damage," stated Nestle spokeswoman Nina Backes. "Like all companies, we are learning about how best to use social media, particularly with such complex issues," Backes added. "What we take out of this is that you have to engage."

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