Facebook’s Huge PR Blunder in Ottawa


I’m not sure who is advising Facebook on PR and public policy matters - but today was a huge PR disaster for Facebook in Canada - and globally. “Fury over Facebook” was just one of the headlines. Perhaps Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is calling the shots himself?

First, the company defied a Canadian House of Commons summons for Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg to appear before the international grand committee on big data, privacy and democracy in Ottawa.
And then snubbing the international politicians even further - it sent junior Facebook executives few people have ever heard of.

The committee, comprised of politicians from Canada, Britain, Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, France, Ireland, Latvia, St. Lucia, Ecuador and Singapore, is examining the role of internet giants in safeguarding privacy and democratic rights.

True to form, the embattled social media executives responded to questions with an air of arrogance and deception - suggesting, for instance, that if Zuckerberg was posted in a doctored online video similar to the one featuring House Speaker Pelosi, that it would be treated in the same way (in other words, not taken down).

Not a headline Facebook and other tech giants anticipated…

Not a headline Facebook and other tech giants anticipated…

This sets a very dangerous precedent," said British MP Damian Collins, the committee's co-chair.

Facebook also failed to address questions why Facebook broke Canadian privacy laws, exposing the personal information of as many as 600,000 Canadians. And then ignoring orders by Canada’s Privacy Commissioner to fix things.

With a federal election just a few months away, Facebook is also under pressure to tighten rules around online ads, especially during elections. Also talk of making tech CEOs and their board members personally responsible of what their platforms do.

My prediction? Expect tough new laws - here and elsewhere - to reign in Facebook and other social media platforms. Or, it could get even worse as former Facebook advisor Mark McNamee suggested: Shut down the platforms: "At the end of the day the most effective path to reform would be to shut down the platforms at least temporarily. Any country can go first. The platforms have left you no choice. The time has come to call their bluff."

Michael Bociurkiw