Every person has the right to privacy. It is not a choice but rather a fundamental right that should be girded by all means possible. And, any person or organization that breaches it should take full responsibility. And, this explains the recent move by Facebook Inc., after it was embroiled in a case of breach of privacy laws in different countries and states in the world. The company found itself in a case where millions of private and personal data were shared with third parties without consent from the owners. The incident was largely unknown until investigations proved that British firm, Cambridge Analytica was found guilty of manipulating elections through the use of personal and private data obtained illegally. The company had solicited the data from Facebook and other social media company. And, for a company of Facebook Inc., stature, it was prudent that it came out clean and redeem its image in the wake of such allegations. And, in one of the press releases and statements, the company pointed at the case of the Virginian state where millions were said to be affected. Therefore, the public relations department of the company had to come up with a strategy that would show to the Virginians and the world that Facebook had admitted its role in the situation and was about to amend the situation. The news release by the public relations of Facebook Inc. was made on 2 May 2018 in their reply to a letter dated 26 March 2018 by Herring and fellow state AGs after they requested for information on the scale of the incident and Facebook's privacy and data security practices.
Admitting guilt and looking for a way to amend the situation is one of the PR's strategies to prove to the organization's client that it cares about them. The case of the news release by the company in response to Attorney General Mark R. Herring, the public relations department from Facebook Inc. admitted to guilt that the company's problems with personal data breach might have affected close to 1.7 million of Virginians. And, this was at least 20% of the total population of Virginia. The release pointed at how the breach occurred. It pointed out that an estimated 7,100 Facebook clients in Virginia had downloaded and installed a third-party app that had brought all the problems (Herring). And, in turn, friends of the users, approximated to be 1.7 million were exposed leading to the unwarranted sharing of personal data without their knowledge (Herring). While admitting guilt, the news also points at Facebook Inc's., the way of addressing the problem. The public relations of the company reminded all Virginians and other users to consider reviewing their privacy settings and ensure that they are aware of the information they are providing with Facebook Inc. and other platforms within the social media realm. The move shows the company's dedication towards providing a safer platform for their clients to interact. It also shows that the company admits that while it is not 100% effective in dealing with such incident, it is committed to protecting its clients hence the admission of guilt on its part and dedication towards the investigation of the case (Herring). The statement below points to the company's position on the news release on May 2, 2018:
According to Facebook, "7,103 Virginia clients downloaded and installed the app. 1,702,732 friends of those users had their information potentially exposed (Herring). And, 1,709,835 total Virginians may have had their information potentially exposed (Herring). The company said that up to 87 million users, mostly in the United States, may have had their data inappropriately turned over to Cambridge Analytica (Herring)."
One of the main goals of the public relations department in any organization is to ensure that the company or organization's image is well-represented in the public domain. It ensures that any negative publicity is repelled and positive perception of the company's strategy in dealing with the clients is maintained. It is for this reason that media coverage plays a key role in enhancing public relations strategies. Any information released to the media is crafted in a way that will help the company or organization achieve its public relations goals or functions. And, this explains the case of the news release by Facebook Inc. in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica saga. The company wanted to redeem its tarnished image following claims that it had unlawfully exposed its clients to inappropriate data sharing. And, following the release of the statement in response to the Virginian case, the information reached millions of people from all over the world where it was shared across different media houses and outlets all over the world. The magnitude of the information and its impact on the firm's brand was visible all over the world as various media houses; both online and offline shared the information across the globe. It was strategically crafted to ensure that all Facebook clients got the information on the organization's commitment towards protecting them from any infringement on their rights. And, by targeting the case of Virginia where the infringement was high, the impact was expected to be high across the media. It was also a perfect opportunity for the company to come out clean and at the same time protect its brand. This is by creating a perception of the organization's well-thought intentions on data safety. And, sharing this information with authorities such as the Attorney general of the Virginian state, the impact on the media was to succeed.
After a careful assessment of the news release by the company on its role and duty towards protecting its clients from any form of manipulation, I believe the public relations department of Facebook Inc. was able to achieve its target. The strategy was effective because the release was done at a time when the company's CEO Mark Zuckerberg had just been interrogated by the United States Senate for the company's involvement in the data manipulation and infringement of personal privacy following the Cambridge Analytica saga. During the Senate hearing, the CEO had promised that the organization was deeply committed to fighting data manipulation. And, thus the Virginian release in response to the AG Mark R. Herring was a perfect move from the public relations department of the company. It had proven that the company was not "all-talk" but was concerned by the rate at which information was shared inappropriately. It also showed the commitment and dedication towards warning the users of the platform to abide by the company's privacy settings and remain vigilante of any third-party applications that required them to share personal information. And, by admitting its role in the inappropriate sharing of personal information, the company's PR team had succeeded in helping their clients/users to understand the nature of challenges the company faces in trying to provide them with a platform that allows them to share and interact.
All this shows that the company is not perfect but at least trying to ensure that the platform is safe and convenient for users to interact with. Therefore, on a personal level scale, I would rate the media coverage and impact of the news release from Facebook Inc. an "A-grade" for being able to achieve the goal of PR: Protect the organization's brand and ensure that a positive perception towards the company/firm is created.
Herring, Mark R". www.oag.state.va.us. 2 May 2018. https://www.oag.state.va.us/media-center/news-releases/1183-may-2-2018-in-response-to-ag-herring-s-request-facebook-reveals-1-7-million-virginians-affected-by-reported-misuse-of-personal-data. 8 May 2018
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PR Writing Reflection: Facebook Inc. Release on Private Data Breach. (2022, May 22). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/pr-writing-reflection-facebook-inc-release-on-private-data-breach
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