Foolish Acts in Social Media Videos Can Have Irreversible Consequences

Prank videos showing obnoxious acts at restaurants have been posted on social media one after another. This cannot be shrugged off as mere mischief. The perpetrators will surely have to take responsibility for foolish acts that undermined food safety.

One video, shot at a restaurant of a conveyor-belt sushi chain in Gifu City and posted on social media, shows a young male customer dabbing saliva on the sushi on the belt and licking the spout of a soy sauce bottle.

Although it may have been a casual attempt to show off, the video quickly went viral — followed by the spread of comments such as, “I don’t want to go to a conveyor-belt sushi restaurant anymore.” The boy should have thought of the serious consequences to the company and society.

Since the beginning of this year, such prank videos have been uncovered one after another.

At a restaurant of another conveyor-belt sushi chain, a customer was seen putting wasabi on top of sushi ordered by another customer. At an udon noodle chain restaurant, a video showed a male customer using a shared serving spoon to eat tenkasu (crispy bits of fried flour-batter) that was offered as a free topping.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, many restaurants have been paying close attention to infection control measures. The latest obnoxious stunts make a mockery of the industry’s efforts to date. The people behind the camera also cannot escape responsibility. The idea that anything can be done as long as it is “funny” is unacceptable.

Each of the restaurant operators has filed a damage report with police. At least one of them is considering filing claims for the costs incurred in enhancing hygiene measures in response to the spread of the videos. To deter copycats, it is unavoidable to take strict measures.

Shooting and posting videos of obnoxious acts can have a heavy price possibly involving in both criminal and civil cases. It is difficult to expunge videos once they have spread, and the posters themselves will suffer for a long time. It should be recognized that such acts could have irreversible consequences.

In the past, acts of “part-timers’ terrorism,” in which part-time restaurant workers posted videos of foodstuffs and cooking utensils being handled inappropriately, occurred frequently. In some cases, the miscreants faced such charges as fraudulent obstruction of business.

Posters of obnoxious videos are often young people who lack social experience. Some experts argue that people who are extremely immersed in social media develop a strong desire to draw attention to their posts, and they become unaware of the trouble they may cause to others.

In the age of the internet, pranks or mischief meant for an inner circle of friends can be seen by many others and become subject to severe criticism.

Many young people may not fully understand how much their actions affect society. It is important to teach young people at home and at school about the risks that exist in the internet society.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 4, 2023)