Facebook: A Bubbling Cauldron of PR Opportunity

April 23, 2019

I read “Facebook’s New Chief Lawyer Helped Write the Patriot Act.” Then I read “Facebook Taps Former Vulcan and Gates Ventures Exec John Pinette to Run Global Communications.” From these two real news stories, I concluded that the Facebook senior management team is circling its wagons, cleaning up the dorm room, and involving some individuals who may have been excluded from the high school science club party last year. Vulcan Ventures and the Patriot Act. Times are changing at the company which seems to struggle with privacy, legislative wrath, and trust.

Not a moment too soon.

The Guardian, an outfit eager to identify the possible frailties of humanoids in Silicon Valley, published “My TED Talk: How I Took on the Tech Titans in Their Lair” and reported via a contributor who gave a TED talk:

In the theatre, senior executives of Facebook had been “warned” beforehand. And within minutes of stepping off stage, I was told that its press team had already lodged an official complaint. In fairness, what multi-billion dollar corporation with armies of PRs, lawyers and crisis teams, not to mention, embarrassingly, our former deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, wouldn’t want to push back on the charge that it has broken democracy? Facebook’s difficulty is that it had no grounds to challenge my statement. No counter-evidence. If it was innocent of all charges, why hasn’t Mark Zuckerberg come to Britain and answered parliament’s questions? Though a member of the TED team told me, before the session had even ended, that Facebook had raised a serious challenge to the talk to claim “factual inaccuracies” and she warned me that they had been obliged to send them my script. What factual inaccuracies, we both wondered. “Let’s see what they come back with in the morning,” she said. Spoiler: they never did.

I am not sure when the Patriot Act and Vulcan hires start work, but the Guardian write up may spin up some work for the new, fresh, clear-eyed Facebookers. Not a moment too soon. Wait. Maybe it is too late?

Stephen E Arnold, April 23, 2019


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