In my last post, Facebook is a Beacon for Bad PR, I called for Mark Zuckerberg to respond using the very system which they own and operate.
“Think about it Mark. You’re sitting on a multi-billion dollar infrastructure for connecting people. Use it! Mark, learn from Steve Jobs. Write a letter and apologize.
Engage your community using the incredible social features that are designed to facilitate conversations in your network. Regain the trust of your community and watch as everyone becomes ‘a fan’ of Facebook again.
One letter, one step, in one social network, will put you on the right path and spark uncountable threads of conversations that will commend you and your company, encourage group hugs, incite some high fiving, and equally important, show advertisers that you can handle a crisis. Remember, this is a people business.
We’re ‘poking’ you for your own good, so let’s see that letter show up in our NewsFeeds and let’s move on to building a better network that connects people to each other along with the very things that interest them.”
Today, Mark Zuckerberg responded.
Here are the highlights:
“About a month ago, we released a new feature called Beacon to try to help people share information with their friends about things they do on the web. We’ve made a lot of mistakes building this feature, but we’ve made even more with how we’ve handled them. We simply did a bad job with this release, and I apologize for it.
When we first thought of Beacon, our goal was to build a simple product to let people share information across sites with their friends. But we missed the right balance.
The problem with our initial approach of making it an opt-out system instead of opt-in was that if someone forgot to decline to share something, Beacon still went ahead and shared it with their friends. It took us too long after people started contacting us to change the product so that users had to explicitly approve what they wanted to share. Instead of acting quickly, we took too long to decide on the right solution. I’m not proud of the way we’ve handled this situation and I know we can do better.
On behalf of everyone working at Facebook, I want to thank you for your feedback on Beacon over the past several weeks and hope that this new privacy control addresses any remaining issues we’ve heard about from you.”
Is this the response we all wanted to see? Probably not.
Is this PR in action? Absolutely.
But, this is the direction the company needed to take in order to stop the bleeding. His words, most notably, his apology, humanize the company.
The letter is a good first step. I do commend him for responding, and doing so through Facebook. It was the right thing to do. And more importantly, the company publicly learned from this and also added a feature that allows you to turn Beacon off all together.
However, there is still an issue that remains, and that is, what happens to the information that is gathered on the advertiser’s side. Even though, it’s not getting sent back to Facebook for an “opt out,” where is it going? Read Om Malik’s post about it here.
Actions speak louder than words. This is a people business. We need to be at the forefront of every business decision that Facebook makes here on forward. Let’s not forget that we’re in control of whether or not we chose to participate in The Facebook. I’m not sure that there will be another chance should business decisions usurp customer service in the future…
Additional voices on the subject:
TechCrunch, Epicenter, GigaOM, Inside Facebook, Read/WriteWeb, AppScout, Insider Chatter, Silicon Alley Insider, VentureBeat, Between the Lines, p2pnet, Valleywag, Bubblegeneration Strategy Lab, JD on EP, Digital Destiny, Webomatica, Global Neighbourhoods, The Praized Blog, Joho the Blog, Scobleizer, Technosailor
His letter sounded too carefully crafted – almost corporate speak – and not the mea culpa that it should have been. He has a long way to go before the fence is mended.
Hey Steve. It is carefully crafted and most likely created in conjunction with PR…but regardless, you’re right, it is not the apology that customers deserve. There’s much to learn from this, and earlier, experiences.