Sheryl Sandberg's News Feed apology leans at first, then falls flat

sandberg_leans_towards_apology.jpg

Sandberg: Have you heard about my book?

Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) desperately wants to repeat its "happy mood" News Feed experiment. Why? For reasons unknown, many users haven't cottoned on to the idea they've been treated with the same kind of regard normally given to albino lab rats. Time for spin control, and so enters Facebook COO and self-promotion expert, Sheryl Sandberg. If anyone should know how to handle the press and fix Facebook's problem, it should be her, right?

Wrong. Sandberg -- a PR master when the subject is about Facebook her book -- recently offered an "eh whatever" sounding apology when asked about the experiment. Ironically, Sandberg's perceived indifference -- real or not -- has managed to spread bad mojo across the Internet far more effectively than Facebook's manipulations ever could.

In IT Blogwatch, bloggers lean in another direction.

Filling in for our humble blogwatcher Richi Jennings, is a humbler Stephen Glasskeys.

 

To find replicants, Sharon Gaudin uses an emotional response test:

[Sheryl] Sandberg, who is second only to co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the social network, discussed the experiment assessing users' emotional responses to Facebook content while in New Delhi...on Wednesday.  MORE

 

Coincidentally, Reed Albergotti suddenly decides to alter his behavior:

"There's no review process, per se," said Andrew Ledvina, a Facebook data scientist from February 2012 to July 2013. "Anyone on [Facebook's Data Science] team could run a test," Mr. Ledvina said. "They're always trying to alter peoples' behavior."  MORE

 

Brad Merrill has half a mind to drop Facebook:

Facebook's COO Sheryl Sandberg has admitted that a week-long psychological experiment involving almost 700,000 unaware users was "poorly communicated."

...

The UK's Information Commissioner's Office is now investigating Facebook over its handling of the experiments.  MORE

 

Kashmir Hill helpfully translates C-Suite-speak:

The Facebook emotion contagion study has finally reached the executive level. Sheryl Sandberg said the word "apologize" in reference to the study...but she made it into one of those classic corporate "We're sorry if this offended you" apologies.

...

Her wording is maybe not the best. Part of why people are so upset is that Facebook did mean to upset some of them as part of the study. Translation: Facebook is not sorry for doing the emotion contagion study. It was done in the normal course of business. It is sorry that everyone is upset about the fact that it purposely made some users upset a couple years ago.  MORE

 

Now, Will Oremus can finally read it, and understand the message:

And what does [Sandberg] mean, "We never meant to upset you?" Upsetting some people -- and making others happy -- was exactly what Facebook set out to do when it conducted the study. As Slate's Katy Waldman wrote, "Facebook intentionally made thousands upon thousands of people sad."

...

The other way to read Sandberg's statement is that she's not really sorry at all -- she just feels like she has to say something, because a lot of people are angry.  MORE

 

Meanwhile, Violet Blue finds her own way to be heard:

Can Facebook ignore WHY WE'RE ALL ANGRY just a *little* bit more? Sandberg: Facebook Study Was 'Poorly Communicated'  MORE

Computerworld Blogs Newsletter

Subscribe now to the Blogs Newsletter for a daily summary of the most recent and relevant blog posts at Computerworld.  

To express your thoughts on Computerworld content, visit Computerworld's Facebook page, LinkedIn page and Twitter stream.
From CIO: 8 Free Online Courses to Grow Your Tech Skills
Shop Tech Products at Amazon
Notice to our Readers
We're now using social media to take your comments and feedback. Learn more about this here.