What Leaders Need to Learn from the Facebook Data Disaster

CommPRO Global, Inc.  |

When a scandal hits a company, they have one of two options to take. Either the brand can allow itself to be blown away by the issue, or they can use it as an excuse to learn incredible leadership skills and bring themselves back from the brink of destruction. Facebook’s (FB) data mining scandal was a defining moment for the history of the company, and chance for the brand to make a similar decision. Recently, Mark Zuckerberg – the CEO of Facebook – agreed to testify in front of Congress that Cambridge Analytica had accessed information about around 50 million Facebook users without their consent or knowledge. The controversy led to a huge global conversation about the ethical state of data mining.

Learning from The Facebook Failure

What Leaders Need to Learn from the Facebook Data Disaster

Of course, Facebook aren’t the only company who has seen a huge issue in the press over recent months. Throughout the years, companies like United Airlines (UAL), Uber, and Experian (EXPGY) have all seen similar moments where they’ve needed to ask themselves how they’re going to repair the damage done to their reputation. As most leaders know, the best thing that any company can do in a dangerous situation such as this one – is find a way to learn from their mistakes and navigate the crisis as effectively as possible. Leaders who learn how to weather uncertainty in the business world are more likely to set themselves up for progress and innovation. With resilience and patience – any leader can turn a company into a success.

The biggest lesson that leaders need to learn from the Facebook issue, is that they can’t simply sweep problems under the rug. While it’s tempting for some managers to simply bury their head in the sand when something goes wrong in their company – the socially-connected nature of the world we live in means that the truth will always come out eventually.

What Facebook Should Have Done

Facebook hasn’t been the first company to see a problem occur as a result of problems with data collection. The founder of Pigeonly – a computer program that helps to connect families with people who are locked up in prison, recently saw a similar problem in his business. Frederick Hutson revealed experts hacked into his company, leaving private information open to the public. This event obviously plunged the company into chaos, but Hutson chose to act with cool and calm.

Hutson informed his team of the hack and called on technical professionals to address the weakness in the system and fix them as quickly as possible. Hutson also had a look at how the other brands in the digital space had been finding new ways to keep secure information safe. During this difficult time, the business kept their focus and created a culture of shared responsibility in the brand that reinforced customer loyalty and trust.

If Facebook’s leaders had taken the same steps and shown transparency form day one – then they would have had fewer problems with their customers and may not have been facing the crisis they are today.

About the Author: Ronn Torossian is CEO of NY PR Agency 5WPR.

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