The media would agree that for the technology super powers, an audience with Congress is a rite of passage. You haven’t quite ‘made it’ until you’ve been invited to sit opposite US Government for public scrutiny.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg’s appearance in Congress was nearly 20 years to the date after Bill Gates received his grilling on whether Microsoft was creating a monopoly. Apple’s CEO Tim Cook has also appeared at both House and Senate for antitrust, human rights and tax issues. Microsoft and Apple both left unscathed following these hearings, but how will Facebook’s reputation be affected following the Cambridge Analytica scandal?
According to Facebook’s share price immediately after the Congress hearing, it would seem the social platform’s reputation hasn’t suffered as much as it could have, and several sources claim the rebound in share price is solely down to Zuckerberg’s open and honest testimony.
“It’s my fault and I’m sorry.”
Shortly after Zuckerberg uttered these words, Facebook’s share price went up 4.5%. Admittedly the scandal initially shaved off a hairy $25bn from the company’s value, but Zuckerberg’s effective Congress testimony has helped form a U-turn in its value.
Essentially, this comes down to how he (and his team of communications experts) handled the crisis. When the scandal was initially unveiled, Facebook received a lot of backlash for not commenting quickly enough. However, given how the story panned out, using the Congress testimony as a platform to speak directly to the social media giants’ customers and apologise was the right approach.
Facebook’s corporate tone has always been young and fresh but also open and bold. It’s hard to say sorry, but Zuckerberg’s ownership of Facebook’s security failures made the tech giant approachable again – it’s hard to stay angry at someone who’s apologised with sincerity.
What we can takeaway from this ongoing data crisis is that, companies that undergo similar issues under the public limelight need to take a very considered approach to how they react. Finding the right time and the right tone for the response is so important and taking ownership of this narrative can ensure you lay out all the facts and clearly demonstrate how you plan to make right what went wrong.
Devika Mistry, Account Director