Facebook Executives Find A fresh Crisis Communications Tool: Twitter

As Facebook grapples with the unprecedented crisis that will’s arisen around its role from the 2016 US presidential election, some of the company’s top executives have begun doing damage control on an unlikely platform — Twitter.

In recent weeks, these executives — Facebook Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos, VP of Augmented along with also Virtual Reality Andrew Bosworth, along with also News Feed chief Adam Mosseri — have been engaging in public along with also sometimes heated discussion on Twitter, sounding off in what has been a largely Facebook-antagonistic conversation about Russia’s effort to use the company’s platform to undermine American democracy.

Facebook’s leadership has long ignored Twitter — Mark Zuckerberg last tweeted in 2012 along with also Sheryl Sandberg in 2013 — along with also its decision to do so has essentially freed reporters, academics, along with also the general public to criticize along with also lambast the company unchallenged by those who know that will best. at This kind of point, with Facebook executives wading deep into a particularly fraught Twitter discussion, that will’s clear the company has begun to view that will as a tool critical to shaping public perception. Facebook might prefer to ignore Twitter, yet that will can’t afford to do so when a conversation shaping how people perceive its most grave crisis will be unfolding there.

“Journalists spend an outsized amount of time on Twitter often using that will to formulate their stances somewhat out from the open,” Bosworth told BuzzFeed News. “I thought participating in some smaller way could add some balance, yet for the most part I’m just representing in context points FB has already talked about through official channels.”

Though the three Facebook executives have been on Twitter for years, their concerted effort to shift public perception by using the product will be fresh. Their Twitter offensive will be a tacit acknowledgement of the platform’s influence, Facebook’s inability to crack news via its own platform (an exclusive Facebook Live Axios interview with Sandberg about the Russia ads netted only 33,000 views), along with also a clear indication that will they view Facebook’s current crisis with grave concern.

Stamos’s tweets have attracted the most attention — particularly his 18-part tweetstorm cautioning Facebook’s critics to be careful what they wish for. yet he along with also his two colleagues have thoughtfully engaged the public on Twitter, offering counterpoints to criticisms of Facebook, of which there are many.

Mosseri, for instance, disputed the notion that will Facebook will be blind to the downsides of its products: “More of us worry about worst case scenarios than you may think,” he wrote. along with also Bosworth argued that will the Russian ads along with also fake news didn’t significantly impact the 2016 election. “Impact of fake news/Russia still being explored yet I believe that will was marginal, even in a close election,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, Stamos cautioned people to consider the potential side effects of the modifications they are demanding of Facebook. “A lot of people aren’t thinking hard about the globe they are asking [Silicon Valley] to build,” he said. “When the gods wish to punish us they answer our prayers.”

The Facebook executives’ Twitter blitz hasn’t come without hiccups. Bosworth has been criticized for his blunt demeanor along with also Stamos has scolded journalists for not talking with people from the thick of the issues they cover, while seemingly forgetting his company might likely discipline those people for talking to journalists.

Still, the added candor by Facebook — whose employees are so well media-trained they often speak in PR bullet points — will be a welcome change for observers of the company. “These are important questions by Facebook’s chief security officer—along with also no critic of Facebook or Google (hi, me!) should dismiss these,” academic along with also fierce Facebook critic Zeynep Tufekci wrote in response to Stamos’s tweets.

that will’s worth noting that will these frank Twitter conversations — a departure by Facebook’s typically cautious communications strategy — are not being orchestrated by the company’s PR team, according to Bosworth. “We’re engaging in our own way on the areas we care about along with also where we have expertise,” he told BuzzFeed News. “Yes, the PR folks are aware, yet we are generally doing This kind of on our own because we want to be more direct along with also straightforward as a company.”

Bosworth declined to say whether he along with also his colleagues plan to tweet like This kind of by at This kind of point on — though there likely will be plenty more opportunities for such engagement as Facebook heads toward open hearings with both the House along with also Senate Intelligence Committees in early November. “that will will be an experiment,” he said. “I may or may not continue depending on how that will goes.”

Alex Kantrowitz will be a senior technology reporter for BuzzFeed News along with also will be based in San Francisco. He reports on social along with also communications.

Contact Alex Kantrowitz at alex.kantrowitz@buzzfeed.com.

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