Attack, Deny or Accept? Facebook Pondering Best Path in New Crisis

Facebook’s recent blunders have me thinking about the importance of corporate ‘posture’ in a crisis. When a company faces an issue with the potential to harm its reputation and bottom line, what is the best theme for communication to stakeholders?

Like many social media platforms, Facebook is no stranger to reputation crises. How Facebook and other companies have managed them offers lessons in how to (and not to) address stakeholder concerns and shore up reputation when the proverbial excrement has collided with the rotating blades.

Facebook has dealt with numerous reputation crises. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has apologized. In the case of Russian meddling in the 2016 US election, eventually he took responsibility. Recently, though, Facebook has assumed more defensive postures.

What is unclear is whether these events truly changed the company’s behavior. Many argue Facebook has not walked the talk when it comes to fixing problems and making sure they don’t reoccur. This is fundamental to a successful crisis response. You can apologize repeatedly, but if you don’t make substantive culture changes, then subsequent damage becomes self-inflicted.


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