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We expect a lot from rich, smart, and powerful tech companies, but they’re not immune to mismanagement. And when genius fails, it can jarring the employees of those companies and ruin the rest of the people after the mistakes.
An article in the Wall Street Journal (registration required) yesterday detailed the ways in which Facebook essentially allows influencers to follow the company’s rules, which apply to everyone else. In one example cited in the article, Facebook initially allowed soccer star Neymar to post nude photos of a woman without her permission, despite regulations against such conduct.
Apparently, for a while, Facebook has given favors to a number of high-profile figures, including Donald Trump. What The Journal reports shows is that Facebook’s use of baby gloves for VIP guests is a systematic practice that has affected millions, that Facebook has mismanaged the implementation of this policy and how Special treatment has countered efforts inside Facebook to dismantle it.
Anyone who has worked for a large organization has probably had a taste of what seems to have happened at Facebook: The company laid out a sensible plan for influential users that broke when enforcement – and then the company is unwilling or unable to fully correct what went wrong.
Stories like Facebook’s faulty VIP system, Amazon’s chaotic management of warehouse workers, and Apple’s repeated false starts in building a car show that even Superstar companies can also get stuck in the bureaucratic quagmire and messy decision-making that affects many large organizations.
What’s different about the tech giants is that those companies seem to believe in their own supremacy – and so does much of the public. That makes their mistakes more obvious, and perhaps makes companies reluctant to accept their mistakes.
The basic idea of Facebook’s VIP policy – giving a second look at decisions affecting senior accounts – makes sense.
The company knows that in the billions of posts on Facebook and Instagram every day, its computer systems and workers make mistakes. Facebook’s computer can delete an innocuous photo from a child’s birthday party because the system misinterprets it as a sexual image that violates the company’s rules.
Giving a different look to influencers’ posts isn’t necessarily a bad idea; unfortunately, the policy was not implemented very well. According to The Journal, because Facebook hasn’t deployed enough moderators or other resources to review all posts, many groups have “chosen not to enforce the rules with highly profiled accounts.” Understand? VIPs who are exempt from corporate rules are less likely to have malicious intent than to be left alone.
The magazine reported that Facebook has known for years that letting celebrities operate under a different, looser rule is unfair and unwise, but the number of those exempt from the penalty continues. increase. The article said there were at least 45 teams at Facebook that started adding names to the VIP list until reaching at least 5.8 million people last year.
I’ll admit that given Facebook’s billions of users, none of its principles or methods are perfect. Facebook and it former head of the civic integrity committee says the company has made changes to address some of the issues with its VIP list. But The Journal’s report ultimately points to a more fundamental error: A large organization has demonstrated astonishing mismanagement and cannot or will not fully fix its problems.
It is not surprising that Congress or the cable company acted incompetent. But we see tech giants with millions of dollars and big brains as special, good-looking, and smarter than everyone else. That makes it all the more surprising when the tech giants mess up paying employees and refuse to admit it, as Google has done, or mess around for years trying to sell groceries, like Amazon did.
Tech companies including Google, Facebook, and Amazon have seemingly invincible power, but their growing wealth doesn’t stop these giants from sometimes becoming grotesquely meaningless.
Before we go…
This Wallaby named Pocket wants to remind you to eat your green leafy vegetables.
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