Reputation Roundup: Geeks, Gunn and Facebook under fire
Geekdom loses one, then gains one due to (alleged) sins of the past
The higher the profile, the higher the standard and that’s why so many Hollywood celebs are getting sacked for behavior that probably wouldn’t surface if happened to an average Joe.
Take the case of Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn. Disney gave him his walking papers last week after offensive, ten-year-old Tweets rose to the surface. What’s different about this case is that many of Gunn’s actor friends publicly defended him and said Disney was wrong to fire him. It’s not that the Tweets weren’t offensive – they were, but those who know him say Gunn is a changed man. Should he lose his livelihood and his reputation because ten years ago he made some bad choices? He said some things he now regrets. He didn’t break the law and he doesn’t feel the same way today.
Selma Blair summed it up best with this:
“. . . if people are punished despite changing, then what does that teach people about owning mistakes and evolving?”
It’s a tough call, especially if you’re family-friendly Disney.
In a somewhat related story, media personality Chris Hardwick was un-suspended from his position as host of the TV series “The Talking Dead”. Hardwick was suspended last month after his former girlfriend posted an expose on the internet claiming he was emotionally and sexually abusive. Hardwick was immediately suspended not only from his show but he was also banned from participating in the Comic-Con panels he’s been hosting for years.
A few days ago, AMC released a statement saying,
“We take these matters very seriously and given the information available to us after a very careful review, including interviews with numerous individuals, we believe returning Chris to work is the appropriate step.”
That’s a huge move. Think about it. Who was the last public figure to be reinstated after an attack on his or her reputation? It doesn’t happen often and when it does, it still leaves a bad taste in the mouth. AMC says he’s cleared but how many people will stop watching the show because they believe him to be guilty?
If you think building a reputation is hard, it’s cake compared to rebuilding it after a fall – whether you were guilty or not.
Facebook security chief says it should always be privacy before profit
The world’s top social network has been underfire lately for a variety of issues including encouraging the spread of misinformation, allowing an analytics firm to exploit data for political gain and for just plain being too creepy! (Facebook, stop peeking in my windows!) It’s easy to say that the world likes to do battle with the giants but turns out it’s not just the outsiders who expressed concern.
A memo magically appeared in the media this week that was written by outgoing Facebook security chief Alex Stamos. In it, he takes some of the blame for the recent debacles, but he also says that he pushed for a less invasive environment.
This paragraph from his memo is something many companies need to take to heart:
“We need to build a user experience that conveys honesty and respect, not one optimized to get people to click yes to giving us more access. We need to intentionally not collect data where possible, and to keep it only as long as we are using it to serve people. We need to find and stop adversaries who will be copying the playbook they saw in 2016. We need to listen to people (including internally) when they tell us a feature is creepy or point out a negative impact we are having in the world. We need to deprioritze short-term growth and revenue and to explain to Wall Street why that is ok. We need to be willing to pick sides when there are clear moral or humanitarian issues. And we need to be open, honest and transparent about challenges and what we are doing to fix them.”
Profits are important, but when a company crosses the line to shore up their bottom line, it almost always comes to light. Once it does, their reputation takes the hit and the profits they gained are lost fighting a public battle to regain the respect of the customers and co-workers.
You know what else comes before “profit” in the dictionary? People. Put them first in your business and you’ll do alright.