Multiple PR Crises and Mitigation Strategies

Ronn Torossian
3 min readNov 1, 2021

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For years now, Facebook has been facing a steady stream of PR crises as more and more information becomes available to the public. Some of that information has been publicly disclosed after requests, and some of it has come from leaked documents from whistleblowers.

The latest PR crisis that Facebook has been battling started with a document leak from the whistleblower Frances Haugen, and spread even further under the title “The Facebook Papers”, where numerous journalists worked together to uncover company details.

A number of news organizations managed to get redacted versions of documents from Facebook, and other documents that Haugen provided to Congress. The documents show various situations behind the scenes at the tech giant, and the ways the company dealt with different issues.

One of the biggest issues that Facebook has been facing in the last couple of years has been misinformation regarding the pandemic as well as the vaccines.

The platform has been extensively criticized for the way it’s handled misinformation on these topics, but now, the leaked documents showed how chaotic everything was inside the company during different periods of crisis.

Many employees raised the alarm at the company regarding how little moderation the platform had carried out regarding vaccine misinformation, and at the company’s inability to deal with the problem.

In recent weeks, Facebook has taken certain steps to address misinformation on the platform. However, those steps arrived over six months after employees started raising the issue internally.

Another issue that Facebook faced was content relating to human trafficking, which caused Apple to threaten to ban Facebook’s apps off the iOS App Store. According to a report, Apple found that domestic workers were being sold using Facebook’s apps.

Additionally, Facebook had already been aware of the problem, although hadn’t been aware of the scope. The platform then disabled over 1000 accounts and removed over 100,000 pieces of content relating to keywords found in the previously mentioned report, which was enough to satisfy Apple and keep the apps in the App Store.

A different document revealed an experiment done by Facebook, where moderators tested different moderation approaches for a German conspiracy movement. The movement became one of the biggest anti-vaccination and anti-lockdown movements in Germany, and according to Facebook’s classifications, it had the potential for violence.

Fortunately, this experiment demonstrated that the platform had a relatively effective moderation system, as it was able to identify a potentially threatening group before it could cause any significant harm, and took action against that group.

Finally, one of the most alarming findings from the documents was that Mark Zuckerberg personally intervened to ensure that his platform would be compliant with a repressive law that was recently instituted in Vietnam.

He agreed to aggressive moderation regarding anti-state content in Vietnam. Some employees found the platform’s efforts weren’t effective enough despite Zuckerberg’s agreement, because of the potential for content to go viral.

It still remains to be seen how Facebook navigates all of these issues that have recently been made public. Additionally, according to recent statements from Zuckerberg, his current plans are to rebrand the company as a whole.

This information potentially coincides with the company looking to find new ways to make Facebook appealing to younger generations, which was another issue that was made public from the leaked documents.

Ronn Torossian is the CEO and Founder of 5W Public Relations. 5W PR is a leading digital PR and influencer marketing agency.

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Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian is Chairman & Founder of 5WPR & one of America’s most notable PR executives. He is the Author of best-selling PR book, “For Immediate Release.“