Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, decided to apologize for the
Facebook study, or, rather, to attempt to use the
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,
. 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.
Facebook meant to upset people. It was the
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
conclude from Sadnberg's statement that she
particularly sorry that the experiment took place.
Here's some free advice, corporate America. If you
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
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
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