LOS ANGELES -- Small business owner Melissa Harms was puzzled Tuesday when she woke up to a wall of angry Facebook comments on her bakery's fan page.
"Your hateful message is all over Facebook! You're a hit! How proud your family must be!" wrote one angry commenter.
SCROLL DOWN TO SEE ELLEN'S REACTION.
But Harms, the owner of Sweet Melissa Cakes in Covina, Calif. had no idea what the commenter was talking about. She posted a blanket message on her page that day, apologizing to her fans for being "hacked." From her page:
Hello My Sweets! I'm guessing my business page has been hacked. I'm getting odd posts about "my hateful" message. I apologize and am trying to get this fixed. Thank you to those who know me and understand.
It turns out that gay rights supporters had confused her business with the similarly named "Sweet Cakes By Melissa," a bakery in Portland, Ore. that gained notoriety this week for refusing to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple.
In an interview with NBC, Portland couple Aaron and Melissa Klein had defended their decision to deny the lesbian couple a wedding cake while disclaiming the accusation that they were "anti-gay."
"I'll sell [gay people] stuff...I'll talk to them, it's fine," Aaron Klein said to NBC. But he said he stopped short of baking a wedding cake because, "I'd rather have my kids see their dad stand up for what he believes in than to see him bow down because one person complained."
Klein also said he'd rather shut down his business than "be forced to do something that violates my conscience," according to KATU, who first reported on the incident.
Eventually, the Kleins deactivated their own Facebook page because they too had been hit with a deluge of angry comments over the gay wedding cake controversy. But once it was gone, notes NBC LA, Harms' page rose to the top of the search query for people seeking out the Klein family's bakery.
"I was a little scared at some points, because there were threats," said Harms to NBC LA.
Watch NBC LA's video report below to see how Harms disarmed angry and confused commenters -- and gained more than double the number of Facebook fans she originally started with.
View more videos at: http://nbclosangeles.com.
Social media has been a boon to businesses who want to get up close and personal with potential customers, but it works both ways. Letting a company or figure know when they've done wrong has become de rigueur and could be considered responsible consumer behavior among some circles.
When Missouri Applebee's worker Chelsea Welch uploaded a photo of a receipt with no tip from a stingy pastor, the restaurant fired her. In response, multiple Facebook pages sprung up calling for people to support Welch or boycott the restaurant until she was re-hired. Applebee's took to their own official page multiple times to explain why they fired Welch in response to thousands of comments, notes the Christian Post.
As for the lesbian couple who was denied a wedding cake in Oregon? Another business has resolved to make up for the Kleins' rejection. Duff Goldman of Ace of Cakes in Baltimore appeared on HuffPost Live Monday to promise the couple a wedding cake, completely free of charge.
"I saw this story and I was like, “Wait -- I can do something, there’s injustice involving a cake!” said Goldman to HuffPost Live. Watch the interview below:
UPDATE: The Ellen Degeneres show came to Melissa Harms' defense Wednesday, asking readers to help support Sweet Melissa Cakes. From Ellen's site:
Ellen wants you to know that Sweet Melissa Cakes in Covina, California is owned by a wonderful woman who has been on our show and is NOT the bakery in question!
Melissa Harms and her 10-year-old son Noah Harms once appeared on the show Oct. 2012. Degeneres gifted the family with two go-carts for Noah's birthday and a check for $10,000 because Melissa Harms' husband had just been laid off from his job.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the location of the Applebee's restaurant in question. We apologize for the error.