April 10, 2018

Does It Mean Anything That Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is Apologizing—Again?

Editor’s note: This story appears in full in The Washington Post. An excerpt is posted below.

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“When an apology keeps being issued over and over and a transgression keeps being repeated, the apology comes to have less meaning and less impact,” said Batten’s Gabrielle Adams. “When over and over [Facebook] keeps doing things that infringe on user privacy, at some point apologies become empty words.”

In her column, Jena McGregor writes that “Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is apologizing—again. In his remarks prepared for Wednesday’s [U.S.] House Energy and Commerce Committee meeting [April 11], in advance of his turn in the hot seat following revelations about the misuse of Facebook user data, Zuckerberg said, ‘We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake. It was my mistake, and I’m sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I’m responsible for what happens here.’”

[Gabrielle Adams, Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Psychology at Batten, has studied resolving interpersonal transgressions through offender punishment, victim compensation, apologies, and forgiveness.]

“His apologies, in and of themselves, are not bad, but they’re often defensive,” she said.

“He tends to frame the mistake as a lack of communication and transparency, but what it comes down to is users are not okay with their data being shared,” she said. “People see privacy as a moral issue.”

                       Mark Zuckerberg (2014 photo courtesy of WikiMedia.)

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