Workplace communication app Slack rolled out a new feature Wednesday morning that allowed users to DM anyone, including those outside of their organization, without having previously connected.
Users instantly protested the new feature, saying that the ability to send messages to strangers created numerous privacy concerns and the potential for abuse. Slack quickly issued a mea culpa, and said it would remove the customized invitation message aspect of Slack Connect DMs.
“After rolling out Slack Connect DMs this morning, we received valuable feedback from our users about how email invitations to use the feature could potentially be used to send abusive or harassing messages,” Jonathan Prince, Slack’s vice president of communications and policy, told Mashable over email. “We are taking immediate steps to prevent this kind of abuse, beginning today with the removal of the ability to customize a message when a user invites someone to Slack Connect DMs.”
Concerns around customer privacy will continue to be paramount as new regulations take effect to protect users in an increasingly digital world. Before sharing a new initiative or feature that will impact the user experience of your company’s product, always collect feedback from those users by conducting a focus group or beta test. It’s crucial that external stakeholders are engaged before any new user features go public.
Facebook’s CEO puts spotlight on systems to remove unlawful content
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg shared his written testimony ahead of today’s hearing in the House of Representatives on social media’s role in spreading misinformation and extremism. The hearing, which will also include Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, will focus on the financial incentives behind why these platforms amplify problematic content as it pertains to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which was passed in 1996, says an “interactive computer service” can’t be treated as the publisher or speaker of third-party content. This protects websites from lawsuits if a user posts something illegal, although there are exceptions for pirated and prostitution-related material.
In his testimony, Zuckerberg suggests that new Section 230 protections for certain types of unlawful content be put in place that reflect platforms’ ability to meet best practices to fight the spread of illicit content.
Zuckerberg added that encryption or privacy changes are “unrelated issues” that would not factor into the best practices for removing unlawful content. He also encouraged Congress to bring about more transparency and oversight around how social platforms should handle content that is problematic, but doesn’t technically break the law.
Why It Matters:
Zuckerberg’s words suggest that Facebook is working fervently to protect itself against assuming any liability for content posted by users and publishers.
As new content regulations are on the horizon, communicators should note the growing responsibility brands have any problematic or unlawful messaging connected with your online channels. Your company or organization may have paid business accounts and branded partnerships with social media platforms, but it doesn’t change the fact that the messaging itself is still a communicator’s responsibility.
Consult with your legal advisors before sharing any content on social media that may land you in hot water and be sure to vet any culturally-sensitive messaging for unwitting misinformation before publishing.
TAKE OUR SURVEY
The start of spring brings new opportunities for agency communicators across roles, organizations and industries to develop stronger relationships with their clients.
Ragan Communications and the Institute for Public Relations are conducting a brief survey on the relationship between PR agencies and their clients, which will be presented at the Ragan’s April 7 Media Relations & Measurement Conference and published in a report that will be launched in May 2021.
Please share your insights with us before the deadline on April 2, 2021. The survey should take less than 10 minutes to complete and your responses will remain confidential. As a thank you for your time and insights, you will be entered into a drawing for one of two $50 gift cards.
Celebrity model and prominent social media user Chrissy Teigen has deleted her Twitter account, citing the negativity and harassment she experienced on the platform as the main reasons for her exit:
— Donie O'Sullivan (@donie) March 25, 2021
Teigen became a notable presence on the platform for her willingness to weigh in on current affairs and news on topics ranging from politics to culture. Some identified her decision to leave Twitter as evidence of the platform’s failure to mitigate the harassment and abuse of its users:
Chrissy Teigen quitting Twitter is a really, really bad reflection on the company's ability to fight abuse. She wasn't just some famous person. She was a power user, and a fan favorite internally (she spoke at Twitter's company-wide retreat in early 2020). This one will sting. https://t.co/eqhbyNKHJM
— Kurt Wagner (@KurtWagner8) March 25, 2021
Communicators should take note that, while celebrity spokespeople and influencers can be a powerful megaphone for your brand during a crisis, the relationship must flow both ways. Their feedback and suggestions as an external stakeholder should always be heard, nurtured and acted upon to preserve the relationship.
CRISIS LEADERSHIP NETWORK
Looking for more insight on how to address the current global crisis and lead your organization into a strong recovery?
Join Ragan’s Crisis Leadership Network to connect and brainstorm with peers, get the latest intelligence and research and start to strategize for the future of your organization.
In its 2021 State of Journalism study, PR tech platform Muck Rack asked journalists why they turn down a communicator’s pitch when it seems otherwise relevant. Most claimed bad timing (25%) and a lack of personalization (21%), while another 25% also said that pitches they reject are too random and/or not localized to them.
Remember that personalizing your pitches also means targeting them, not just to any journalist reporting on a generally-related beat, but to those reporters whose niches will resonate directly with the story you hope to tell. Do your research on the locality of a reporter’s coverage. Don’t waste time pushing angles that feel like a reach. And always read their work beforehand.
Comedian and late-night host Jay Leno has issued an apology for decades of jokes about the Asian community.
The apology comes after a nearly 15-year campaign from the activist group Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA) for remarks as recent as Variety‘s 2020 report that Leno cracked about Koreans eating dog meat—a complaint that offended numerous players on the set of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.”
“At the time I did those jokes, I genuinely thought them to be harmless,” Leno said in a joint press release with MANAA leader Guy Aoki. “I was making fun of our enemy North Korea, and like most jokes, there was a ring of truth to them.”
In light of that, Leno said, “I am issuing this apology. I do not consider this particular case to be another example of cancel culture but a legitimate wrong that was done on my part. MANAA has been very gracious in accepting my apology. I hope that the Asian American community will be able to accept it as well, and I hope I can live up to their expectations in the future.”
Communicators should always search through past comments, both online and off, that might be deemed inappropriate amid changing sentiments in the cultural zeitgeist and assume that those comments will eventually surface. Position any apology as a joint statement with the party, group or organization that is on the receiving end to communicate solidarity and allyship.
General Mills responds to shrimp tails in cereal with doubt and deflection
Writer and comedian Jensen Karp tweeted at the Cinnamon Toast Crunch account on Monday morning, after finding what he says were shrimp tails in his cereal bowl. After sending a form submission to cereal manufacturer General Mills, Karp posted a picture of the offending shrimp tails on Twitter. The tweet went viral, and the cereal brand reached out to Karp, asking to move the conversation to DMs soon after. After Karp declined a replacement bag, the account responded with a public denial of Karp’s claim:
After further investigation with our team that closely examined the image, it appears to be an accumulation of the cinnamon sugar that sometimes can occur when ingredients aren't thoroughly blended. We assure you that there's no possibility of cross contamination with shrimp.
— Cinnamon Toast Crunch (@CTCSquares) March 22, 2021
General Mills publicly continued to deny that the cereal was tainted, encouraging Karp to bring the cereal to local law enforcement while the cereal company investigates the incident further.
“While we are still investigating this matter, we can say with confidence that this did not occur at our facility,” Mike Siemienas, a representative for General Mills, wrote in an email. “We are waiting for the consumer to send us the package to investigate further. Any consumers who notice their cereal box or bag has been tampered with, such as the clear tape that was found in this case, should contact us.”
Mr. Karp said he is leery of sending the contents to General Mills. “I’m definitely holding on to one of them,” he said. (In a subsequent email, a General Mills representative advised Mr. Karp to send the items to his “local law enforcement” if he would not send them to the company.)
Mr. Karp is frustrated with how General Mills handled the situation. “All you have to do is say, ‘This is such a bummer, we’re going to look into it. We’re going to recall the ones from your Costco.’ Like, it’s such an easy PR thing to do,” he said. “But instead, they wanted to basically gaslight me.”
The situation has become more fraught as women have come forward to accuse Mr. Karp of harassment and misconduct.
Seems like shrimp cereal guy might not be the best dude. pic.twitter.com/rcuhyCeSqZ
— Mark Leonard (@loogawa) March 24, 2021
Why It Matters:
Customer care teams on social media are a crucial part of any brand’s communications strategy, but they aren’t always trained to implement a clear set of protocols for responding to unique crisis scenarios. Whatever the issue, you should never publicly doubt a vocal detractor, especially when that detractor has experience working with PR as a member of the media themselves.
Acknowledge your external stakeholders by letting them know you are investigating a reported issue, align with their frustrations by expressing empathy and providing them contacts and resources, and assure them that you are investigating the matter without jumping to conclusions.
As the news cycle continues to rapidly shift and communicators grapple to create strategies that overcome content exhaustion and misinformation, it’s crucial to embrace new best practices grounded in measurement, data and insights that can both build engagement and boost brand awareness.
Attendees will discover new and smart opportunities to overcome crisis challenges, pitch stories that reporters crave, better understand and deliver to target audiences through analytics and insights, enhance media relations efforts through the PESO model and brand journalism, prove the ROI of your efforts, and more.
Learn powerful insights and secrets from speakers at organizations including NAACP, PepsiCo, Goodwill, Pfizer, Hilton and Britannica Group.
WHAT YOU SAID
On Wednesday, we asked what progress you had made in attacking your weekly priority list.
A solid 48% of you said you were halfway through it, right where you should be. Meanwhile, 42% of you confessed to barely having made a dent, and 7% of you were ahead of the game. Then, there’s the 3% of you who are already finished with your work this week. You can all collect your overachievers’ badges later.
Just checking in, PR pros and communicators – how much progress have you made attacking your weekly To-Do list?
Let us know how you’re getting on this week under the hashtag #DailyScoop. We’ll share top responses in tomorrow’s roundup.
— PR Daily (@PRDaily) March 24, 2021
Is there a question you’d like to see asked? Let us know by tagging it with #DailyScoop
Last week, U.S. airline travel reached its highest level since March 2020. When will you feel fully comfortable flying again, PR pros and communicators?
Last weekend, U.S. airlines saw the most travelers since March 2020. When will you feel fully comfortable flying again, PR pros and communicators?
Let us know how you’re feeling about flying under the hashtag #DailyScoop. We’ll share top responses in tomorrow’s roundup.
— PR Daily (@PRDaily) March 25, 2021
Let us know how you’re feeling about flying, be it for business or pleasure, under the hashtag #DailyScoop. We’ll share top responses in tomorrow’s roundup.