In an apparent effort to prepare for and perhaps get ahead of its next crisis, Facebook has warned its employees about potentially damaging accusations by a whistleblower that the social media giant contributed to the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
According to Axios, Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president of policy and global affairs, said in a memo to employees that tonight CBS’ s 60 Minutes will “suggest that the extraordinary steps [Facebook] took for the 2020 elections were relaxed too soon and contributed to the horrific events of January 6 in the Capitol.”
As reported by the New York Times, Clegg pushed back on what he said were the whistleblower’s expected accusations, calling them “misleading.” He said in the memo that, “Social media has had a big impact on society in recent years, and Facebook is often a place where much of this debate plays out,” he wrote. “But what evidence there is simply does not support the idea that Facebook, or social media more generally, is the primary cause of polarization.”
Better To Play Offense Than Defense
From a crisis management standpoint, it’s always better to be proactive when dealing with a potential or real crisis, and to get your side of the story out to stakeholders and the public as soon as possible. Facebook appears to be doing just that concerning the 60 Minutes story.
Although the social media giant will be back playing defense when the story airs later today, they have already scored important crisis communication points by telling employees what to expect. It’s always better to deliver the bad news about a crisis than to leave that task to others.
Facebook’s Next Crisis?
As bad as this 60 Minutes story could be for Facebook, yet another crisis may be around the corner.
Last Thursday there was a hearing by a U.S. Senate subcommittee on the impact of social media on the mental health of teenagers and children and the postponed launch of Instagram Kids. On Tuesday, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chair of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security will convene a hearing titled “Protecting Kids Online: Testimony from a Facebook Whistleblower.”
According to the notice about the hearing on the Committee’s website, “Recent Wall Street Journal investigations have revealed troubling insights regarding how Instagram affects teenagers, how it handles children onto the platform, and other consumer protection matters related to Facebook. The hearing will provide an opportunity for a Facebook whistleblower to discuss their perspective and experience with the Subcommittee, including how to update children’s privacy regulations and other laws to protect consumers online.