LPM Insider Survey: How Well Has Facebook Handled Itself in the Face of Controversy?

Zuckerberg' handling of the situation thus far has not followed the traditional rules of effective crisis management

In last week’s most-read story, “Have You Deleted Your Facebook Account Yet?”, we discussed how Cambridge Analytica, a political data firm hired by President Trump’s 2016 election campaign, gained access to private information on more than 50 million Facebook users.

According to the New York Times, the data collected from Facebook included details on users’ identities, friend networks and “likes.” Facebook has said that “no passwords” or sensitive information was taken.

Facebook is insisting that the Cambridge incident was not a data breach, but maintains that Cambridge crossed the line and broke the rules when they provided the information to a political consulting firm.

Cambridge Analytica first denied that they had obtained or used Facebook data, then changed their story claiming they deleted the information when they realized they were in violation of Facebook’s rules. Facebook also said they demanded and received certification that the data had been destroyed, but now say they recently received reports that not all the data was deleted.

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This debacle has led to a Federal Trade Commission investigation and calls from Congress and British Parliament for Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg to appear before them over the incident, with hundreds of thousands of Facebook users also claiming they plan to delete their accounts.

Regular readers of the LPM Insider know that we talk a lot about crisis management and crisis communication basics. Some of those fundamentals include:

  • Have the most senior executive possible act as the company spokesperson—and quickly
  • Immediately respond to major issues with candor and openness
  • Show concern and empathy
  • Closely monitor the developing situation on all forms of communication: social media, television and radio—and know what’s being said

So, how has Facebook handled this crisis, and how appropriate and effective was their initial response? What do you think?


We look forward to your insights and opinions! Please feel free to candidly share your thoughts. All responses to the survey will remain anonymous.

Look for the results of the survey to appear in next Monday’s LPM Insider.

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