By Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC
Crisis communication failures are easy for any expert to cite as an example of what not to do. It is far harder to find a crisis communication and crisis management case study where things are done correctly, because often the public never knows about a potential crisis that never reached a flash point.
Twitter, however, has publicly averted a crisis through both good crisis management and good crisis communications. The wisdom of their decision is punctuated by Facebook’s failure to avert a crisis.
Twitter has voluntarily decided to simply not run political ads. On the one hand, Twitter will lose ad revenue. On the other hand, Twitter doesn’t have to bear the blame of running false, deceptive, or divisive political ads.
Facebook, meanwhile, in what appears to be a grab to earn all the money they can, has publicly said they will run political ads, while also confirming that they will not check to see if the ads are false. Put in simple terms, if you want to lie, Facebook will take your money in order to help you promote and spread your lie.
It is refreshing to see a CEO like Twitter’s Jack Dorsey do what is right, rather than doing what earns the most short term money. It shouts INTEGRITY. I’ve been fortunate enough to deal with many CEOs who are willing to take my advice to do what is right, even if it means earning less money in the short term.
Ultimately, when you do the right thing you reap long term rewards, which offsets the short term losses. Only time will tell if this is true for Twitter, but Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is going to give it a try.
Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg will simply add to their downward spiral of criticism. Facebook’s business model is to harvest as much of your personal data as possible, then sell that data to those who want to manipulate your beliefs for their own gain. This is true whether an ad targets you for laundry powder, toothpaste, or someone running for president of the United States.
Facebook, in many ways, is the platform that has made America so divided politically, because of the Facebook data harvested by Cambridge Analytica, which was used to benefit everyone from the Russians to political candidates in the 2016 presidential election.
Facebook’s engagement is down significantly because people are tired of having their data harvested and they are tired of seeing everything from divisive ads to divisive political memes from fake Facebook accounts. Ultimately, Facebook will be nothing more than a place where like-minded people gather to support their like-minded beliefs that are being reinforced by like-minded candidates who tell them what they already believe.
My suspicion is that Facebook is betting they can make big bucks by doing what I would professionally consider to be the WRONG thing. I suspect their short term gain will result in long term losses as more users leave the platform.
In the meantime, let me lift up Twitter and Jack Dorsey for every company and every CEO to see. There is never a wrong time to do the right thing.
Crisis communications and media training expert Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC is based in New Orleans. Organizations on five continents have relied on him to write their crisis communications plans and to train their spokespeople. He is the author of “Don’t Talk to the Media Until…”
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