Facebook COO: Sorry you got so upset when we deliberately upset you

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Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, decided to apologize for the Facebook study, or, rather, to attempt to use the structure of an apology in an effort to whitewash the incident-surely one of the most common (in all senses of the word) rhetorical devices in the corporate world, as well as one of the most transparent and hated. Here is what she said. "This was part of ongoing research companies do to test different products, and that was what it was; it was poorly communicated, and for that communication we apologize. We never meant to upset you."

Where to begin? Well, let's start with the lie-the bold-faced, through-the-teeth lie . It isn't every day that we in the media can name as a lie a statement from a corporate officer without fear of reprisal ('cause they hate that), but rarely in my memory has anyone made a statement so directly contrary to the acknowledged facts. Of course Facebook meant to upset people. It was the entire basis of the experiment, and the entire reason that people are upset with the company in the first place.

Then there is the nonsense-the words flitting about without purpose or meaning-about the poor communication. There never was any communication, making it all the more of a cop out that Sandberg specifically points to the communication, not the secret experiment that manipulated the emotions of (among others) children and those already suffering emotional distress, as the reason for her apology.

You know, one might conclude from Sadnberg's statement that she isn't particularly sorry that the experiment took place.

Here's some free advice, corporate America. If you aren't sorry for a thing (and if you believe, in your heart, that everyone or anyone else other than yourself is at fault, you aren't sorry) then don't apologize, even if everyone wants you to. The chance is too great that you will inadvertently convey how you really feel, making matters exponentially worse.

I recently offered bullish sentiments about Facebook, which today I am much less confident about. Watch carefully, because the uproar today about the experiment and the offensive, insulting-to-the-intelligence non-apology from Sandberg demand a sincere response. If the company doesn't-or can't-give one, then I would view it as a troubling display of corporate arrogance. More than troubling enough, in fact, to shake my faith in this company's future.

Julian Close has been a business writer since the first day of the twenty-first century, having written for PRA International and the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping. He graduated from Davidson College in 1993 and received a Master of Arts in Teaching from Mary Baldwin College in 2011. He became a stockbroker in 1993, but now works for Fresh Brewed Media and uses his powers only for good. You can see closing trades for all Julian's long and short positions and track his long term performance via twitter: @JulianClose_MIC .


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This article was originally published on MarketIntelligeneCenter.com



The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.



This article appears in: Investing , Technology

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