Why have the number of public apologies tripled since 1980?

Brands and celebrities are saying they’re sorry more than ever. Are they goofing up more, or is something else at play?

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Ragan Insider Content

Every day, millions of people log on to Twitter, Facebook, and other sites to check the latest news, see what their friends are up to, and check in with their favorite brands. These considerable numbers represent a public that is ever vigilant, always watching, listening, and sharing—evoking a new culture of social policing.

This summer, we saw a number of public apologies issued by businesses and celebrities, including Twilight heroine Kristen Stewart, Olympic athlete Voula Papachristou, online fashion retailer Celeb Boutique, and even social network giant Twitter. All of which attracted considerable controversy.

One example of a social apology done well is Southwest Airlines, which recently celebrated its 3 million Facebook “likes” by offering fans 50 percent off a round-trip flight using the promotion code LUV2LIKE. Due to an “error in the system,” customers were charged multiple times for the same flight.

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