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Corner Bakery forbids photography inside their restaurants, “it’s policy”

(Social Media) Try pulling out your phone in a Corner Bakery today and you’ll get aggressive employees yelling at you to stop. Is this rule good or bad for a brand?

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Corner Bakery prohibits photography, be careful with your phone

While most companies beg their patrons to snap shots of their products, staff, or services, the restaurant chain Corner Bakery feels the opposite, in fact, their staff will yell at you from across the building, chastising you for taking any photographs.

At the Corner Bakery in Fort Worth, Texas, Benn Rosales, the CEO of The American Genius took his family for a quick breakfast and was shooting the following image when a male employee raised his voice, “you can’t take pictures in here.”

Rosales continued, as he asked the employee, “don’t you want me to tweet and share with the world my experience? Do you not want me to publicly celebrate my visit to your restaurant?”

“It’s the rules!” the employee insisted.

Rosales, along with his wife and daughter (who is recovering from surgery and using a scooter for mobility) were on their way out and chose to leave without confrontation, but the employee was still angrily yelling upon their exit.

corner bakery cafe

This policy is “operationally destructive”

“As a publisher, I can tell you that this is operationally destructive to a company’s public relations efforts,” Rosales asserted. “To allow someone to enjoy your restaurant and want to tell people about service, food quality, or ambiance of the restaurant, such a policy would make that impossible.”

This particular location is not in a boring strip mall, rather in Fort Worth’s beautiful historic district where Rosales was on vacation with his family and had just finished a meal while discussing the historical buildings in the area.

Rosales concluded, “I was preparing to share photos of a sentimental breakfast, having visited this location on every Fort Worth visit I’ve taken with my family. Just like any other picture snapping patron, my intention was simply to share a positive experience with our many followers, but an aggressive employee turned a lovely family moment into a confrontation, and converted a positive experience into a negative (and public) experience.”

Is it legal?

While businesses have the right to restrict photography on their private property, it is legal to take images of the exterior of any commercial building, and for brands that restrict photography, it is standard to have those policies clearly stated in the building, particularly before entry – for example, entering a tech company office like Google, you sign a form at the door that as a visitor, you will not take or share any photos.

The social media experts weigh in

“That’s decided anti-social,” social media expert, Fran Stephenson, Principal at Step In Communication tells us. “In this environment of ratings and reviews, the potential for a shared picture online can be a positive force for a business. I see no downside, but there are some businesses who still don’t believe in the power of a solid online presence.”

“If there is a no-pictures policy, then it should be, at a minimum, written down, and also posted. Beyond being a baseless and idiotic claim, it is self-defeating,” said Mark Story, Social Media Lead at the National Cancer Institute. “What if you tagged the Corner Bakery in a post and have hundreds or thousands of friends? What if you wrote about how great their muffins are in your popular and well publication? Instead, whomever said this to you dug their own online grave.”

Other experts had more harsh criticism, but there is a consensus against this policy – we could not find one expert that agreed with Corner Bakery’s position on the matter.

Unfortunate and misguided

At last search, there are thousands of user-generated photos online that have been taken inside of this Corner Bakery and posted online, and Rosales had seen photos on Yelp before entering, saw no notice that photography was not allowed, and opined that this policy is unfortunate and misguided.

There is no mention on the company site that photography is forbidden, and we have reached out to Corner Bakery for comment on this policy.

All images in this story were taken by Rosales and do not appear elsewhere online.

Marti Trewe reports on business and technology news, chasing his passion for helping entrepreneurs and small businesses to stay well informed in the fast paced 140-character world. Marti rarely sleeps and thrives on reader news tips, especially about startups and big moves in leadership.

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Michael Bray

    March 15, 2015 at 10:47 am

    What an unfortunate circumstance! As a real estate professional I often take clients to one of our several neighborhood locations after a day of showing houses for a fantastic cup of coffee and slice of their to-die-for crumb cake. Quite often we will take a photo to add to our tour of homes and neighborhoods. While we have not experienced the same treatment it would be highly embarrasing and I am not sure we would handle it with the same grace you showed.

    I too have reached out to their corporate offices to get a clarification of their policy. Hopefully yours was an isolated incident and not a misguided policy. Until I get a satisfactory answer, I guess I am going to miss that crumb cake!

  2. Pingback: Photography Forbidden in the Corner Bakery

  3. Maya Thomas

    March 15, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    I can relate! This happened to me at 7 Fish restaurant in Key West. I’m a real estate broker in Key West and I love to share all of the wonderful places to eat and things to see and do on social media so that our island guests can plan a really fun vacation. I was excited for an evening out with my husband. We both work a great deal and we both volunteer every day after work for 3 hours so we can never eat out during the week. We also volunteer for 4 hours on Saturdays. We live outside of the city so dinner in the city is a rare and special occasion. 7 Fish was so rude to us it ruin our experience, our evening and our dinner. 7 Fish also yelled at me about taking a picture. It was terrible. From that point on even the food wasn’t good. My good time was squashed. It seemed like the service took for ever and the food was mediocre, at best. When you’re posting pictures and interacting with your friends and their liking your pictures it adds an element of fun. Especially for us because we have zero personal life after work and volunteer activities.

  4. Debbie Saviano

    March 15, 2015 at 3:30 pm

    This is so timely Marti as I have had quite the opposite experience?
    I use the #CornerBakery as a Meeting place with Clients and even have #CornerMeetUps around the country when I travel.
    I too am a Fan of Social Media and so naturally, Post • Document • Tweet my Experiences.
    Each time I am in a Corner Bakery I am those who are with me are engaging on Social Media with plenty of pics flowing.
    Managers even take pictures with us.
    Corner Bakery shares my Tweets and my Pics and are highly Engaged ON LINE.
    Would be most interesting to get the “Official Reaction” from Home Office.
    Until then I will continue to “Share the Experiences”.

  5. Renae McBrian

    April 11, 2015 at 7:44 pm

    I think this is a store by store policy. All of the California stores allow (and encourage) photos in our stores. It’s good for business for word, pictures, comments, reviews, etc. to be spread via social media, and we are more than happy to snap pictures of guests. The only thing we DON’T allow (at least in the Westlake Village location) is taking pictures with celebrities, as it disturbs our business in general and the celebrities as people and customers.

  6. Mike

    May 13, 2015 at 10:18 am

    So 2 months after this, Corner Bakery is having a selfie contest to take a picture of you and your salad: https://cornerbakerycafe.fbmta.com/shared/images/227/227_20150508461801.jpg

  7. Pingback: Agencies bundling professional photographers into travel packages - The American Genius

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Social Media

Can you legally monitor your employees’ online activities? Kinda

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Are they ways you are monitoring your employees online even legal? Did you know there are illegal methods? Yep.

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Edward Snowden’s infamous info leak in 2013 brought to light the scope of surveillance measures, raising questions about legality of monitoring tactics. However, the breach also opened up broader discussion on best practices for protecting sensitive data.

No company wants to end up with a data breach situation on their hands, but businesses need to be careful when implementing monitoring systems to prevent data loss.

Monitoring your employee’s activity online can be a crucial part of safeguarding proprietary data. However, many legal risks are present when implementing data loss prevention (DLP) methods.

DLP tools like keystroke logging, natural language processing, and network traffic monitoring are all subject to federal and state privacy laws. Before putting any DLP solutions in place, companies need to assess privacy impact and legal risks.

First, identify your monitoring needs. Different laws apply to tracking data in transit versus data at rest. Data in transit is any data moving through a network, like sending an email. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) requires consent for tracking any data in transit.

Data at rest is anything relatively immobile, like information stored in a database or archives. Collecting data at rest can fall under the Stored Communications Act (SCA), which typically prohibits unauthorized access or disclosure of electronic communications.

While the SCA does not usually prevent employers from accessing their own systems, monitoring things like Gmail accounts could get messy without proper authorization.

Who you’re tracking matters as well regarding consent and prior notification. If you’re just monitoring your own employees, you may run into disclosure issues. Some states, like Delaware and Connecticut, prohibit employee monitoring without prior notice.

The ECPA also generally prohibits tracking electronic communication, but exceptions are granted for legitimate business purposes so long as consent is obtained.

Monitoring third party communications can get tricky with wiretapping laws. In California and Illinois, all parties must be notified of any tracking. This can involve disclosures on email signatures from outbound employee emails, or a broad notification on the company’s site.

Implied consent comes from third parties continuing communication even with disclaimers present.

If you’re wanting to install DLP software on personal devices used for work, like a company cellphone, you could face a series of fines for not gaining authorization. Incorrect implementation may fall under spyware and computer crime laws.

With any DLP tools and data monitoring, notification and consent are crucial. When planning monitoring, first assess what your privacy needs are, then identify potential risks of implementing any tracking programs.

Define who, where, and why DLP software will apply, and make sure every employee understands the need for tracking. Include consent in employee onboarding, and keep employees updated with changes to your monitoring tactics.

Protecting your company’s data is important, but make sure you’re not unintentionally bending privacy laws with your data loss prevention methods. Regularly check up on your approaches to make sure everything is in compliance with monitoring laws.

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Social Media

Should social media continue to self-regulate, or should Uncle Sam step in?

(MEDIA) Should social media platforms be allowed to continue to regulate themselves or should governments continue to step in? Is it an urgency, or a slippery slope?

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Last week, Instagram, Whatsapp, and Facebook suffered a massive outage around the world that lasted for most of the day. In typical Internet fashion, frustrated users took to Twitter to vent their feelings. A common thread throughout all of the dumpster fire gifs was the implication that these social media platforms were a necessary outlet for connecting people with information—as well as being an emotional outlet for whatever they felt like they needed to share.

It’s this dual nature of social media, both as a vessel for content that people consume, as well as a product that they share personal data with (for followers, but also knowing that the data is collected and analyzed by the companies) that confuses people as to what these things actually are. Is social media a form of innovative technology, or is it more about the content, is it media? Is it both?

Well, the answer depends on how you want to approach it.

Although users may say that content is what keeps them using the apps, the companies themselves purport that the apps are technology. We’ve discussed this distinction before, and how it means that the social media giants get to skirt around having more stringent regulation. 

But, as many point out, if the technology is dependent on content for its purpose (and the companies’ profit): where does the line between personal information and corporate data mining lie?

Should social media outlets known for their platform being used to perpetuate “fake news” and disinformation be held to higher standards in ensuring that the information they spread is accurate and non-threatening?

As it currently stands, social media companies don’t have any legislative oversight—they operate almost exclusively in a state of self-regulation.  This is because they are classified as technology companies rather than media outlets.

This past summer, Senator Mark Warner from Virginia suggested that social media, such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, needed regulation in a widely circulated white paper. Highlighting the scandal by Cambridge Analytica which rocked the polls and has underscored the potential of social media to sway real-life policy by way of propaganda,

Warner suggested that lawmakers target three areas for regulation: fighting politically oriented misinformation, protecting user privacy, and promoting competition among Internet markets that will make long-term use of the data collected from users.

Warner isn’t the only person who thinks that social media’s current state of self-regulation unmoored existence is a bit of a problem, but the problem only comes from what would be considered a user-error: The people using social media have forgotten that they are the product, not the apps.

Technically, many users of social media have signed their privacy away by clicking “accept” on terms and conditions they haven’t fully read.* The issues of being able to determine whether or not a meme is Russian propaganda isn’t a glitch in code, it’s a way to exploit media illiteracy and confirmation bias.

So, how can you regulate human behavior? Is it on the tech companies to try and be better than the tendencies of the people who use them? Ideally they wouldn’t have to be told not to take advantage of people, but when people are willingly signing up to be taken advantage of, who do you target?

It’s a murky question, and it’s only going to get trickier to solve the more social media embeds itself into our culture.

*Yes, I’m on social media and I blindly clicked it too! He who is without sin, etc.

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Social Media

Deepfakes can destroy any reputation, company, or country

(MEDIA) Deepfakes have been around for a few years now, but they’re being crafted for nefarious purposes beyond the original porn and humor uses.

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Deepfakes — a technology originally used by Reddit perverts who wanted to superimpose their favorite actresses’ faces onto the bodies of porn stars – have come a long way since the original Reddit group was banned.

Deepfakes use artificial intelligence (AI) to create bogus videos by analyzing facial expressions to replace one person’s face and/or voice with another’s.

Using computer technology to synthesize videos isn’t exactly new.

Remember in Forrest Gump, how Tom Hanks kept popping up in the background of footage of important historical events, and got a laugh from President Kennedy? It wasn’t created using AI, but the end result is the same. In other cases, such technology has been used to complete a film when an actor dies during production.

The difference between these examples and that latest deepfake technology is a question of ease and access.

Historically, these altered videos have required a lot of money, patience, and skill. But as computer intelligence has advanced, so too has deepfake technology.

Now the computer does the work instead of the human, making it relatively fast and easy to create a deepfake video. In fact, Stanford created a technology using a standard PC and web cam, as I reported in 2016.

Nowadays, your average Joe can access open source deepfake apps for free. All you need is some images or video of your victim.

While the technology has mostly been used for fun – such as superimposing Nicolas Cage into classic films – deepfakes could and have been used for nefarious purposes.

There is growing concern that deepfakes could be used for political disruption, for example, to smear a politician’s reputation or influence elections.

Legislators in the House and Senate have requested that intelligence agencies report on the issue. The Department of Defense has already commissioned researchers to teach computers to detect deepfakes.

One promising technology developed at the University of Albany analyzes blinking to detect deep fakes, as subjects in the faked videos usually do not blink as often as real humans do. Ironically, in order to teach computers how to detect them, researchers must first create many deepfake videos. It seems that deepfake creators and detectors are locked in a sort of technological arms race.

The falsified videos have the potential to exacerbate the information wars, either by producing false videos, or by calling into question real ones. People are already all too eager to believe conspiracy theories and fake news as it is, and the insurgence of these faked videos could be created to back up these bogus theories.

Others worry that the existence of deepfake videos could cast doubt on actual, factual videos. Thomas Rid, a professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins University says that deepfakes could lead to “deep denials” – in other words, “the ability to dispute previously uncontested evidence.”

While there have not yet been any publicly documented cases of attempts to influence politics with deepfake videos, people have already been harmed by the faked videos.

Women have been specifically targeted. Celebrities and civilians alike have reported that their likeness has been used to create fake sex videos.

Deepfakes prove that just because you can achieve an impressive technological feat doesn’t always mean you should.

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