Public Relations Presentation: Ethics in the News Group 6. Facebook Crisis Response Demonstrates Poor Public Relations

For Ethics in the News Presentation, we will be looking at the Facebook Whistleblower case. Through this case, we will identify ethical issues related to Public Relations on behalf of Facebook.

To do this, we will educate the audience on what Public Relations is, the role of someone working in public relations, and why it is important.

  • Public Relations is about taking actions that shape the perception of the brand and develop and maintain positive customer relationships. It is important to assert brand presence, strengthen brand reputation and identity, preserve a positive image, build connections, etc.

Next, we will talk about crisis management and the successful strategies those working in the PR crisis management team can take to minimize negative publicity.

  • Crisis management is the application of strategies designed to help an organization deal with a sudden and significant negative event.

Next, we will explain the Facebook Whistleblower case and detail the companies response to the accusations made. With this, we will explain how this response exemplifies poor public relations and why. Then we will talk about what practices could have been taken to foster a better response.

  • “If we didn’t care about fighting harmful content, then why would we employ so many more people dedicated to this than any other company in our space — even ones larger than us?”
  • I will explain why quote amongst other quotes work to ridcule critics rather then illicit a positive message. This is bad PR. Good PR would be to take responsibility and accountability.
  • Strategies include apologizing, taking accountability, detailing action of improvement.

We will move to detailing the ethical issues in the case such as not keeping company promises, abuse of power, disregard for human safety.

There are four major claimants to this story. The first one is our “whistleblower,”  Frances Haugen. She worked for Facebook for about two years and resigned because she felt a moral and ethical dilemma being a part of something she didn’t believe in. The second moral claimant is teenage girls who are affected mentally by the beauty standard  of social expectations. The third claimant is society as a whole,  A.K.A, facebook users. There is misinformation that is presented,  and there is no way to regulate a post. It can also be harmful, for example, the January insurrection that was planned by people on the platform. Lastly, the employees of facebook. Due to the platform losing credibility/ trust,it  affects the work environment.

The major ethical theory applied to this dilemma is social contract theory. Facebook has an ethical responsibility to the public to not be harmful.  It is designed for people to be connected and not harmed. An ethical dilemma is how much accountability facebook should have in its content. 

Some questions we should ask ourselves for an alternative course of action should be: 

  • What are the best-and worst-case scenarios if you choose this alternative?
  • Will anyone be harmed if this alternative is chosen, and how will they be harmed?
  • Would honoring any ideal/value(personal, professional, religious, or other) invalidate the chosen alternative or call it into question? 
  • Are there any rules or principles (legal, professional,organizational, or other)that automatically invalidate this alternative?

When this ethical issue occured, facebook should have attacked the situation from the beginning to start preventing harmful content on the  platform. Facebook decided to defend their company instead and was not looking out for the people. They should have sought different approaches to amend the people and their business.  Due to this issue, people now have a negative outlook on facebook and their credibility from their initial response. 

Then presentation will be concluded with discussions questions about the audiences trust with facebook in regards to the Mark Zuckerbergs post.

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