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I-Spy #3: Facebook CEO’s Image Threatened by New Movie

October 1, 2010

Crisis:  A new movie titled, The Social Network, portrays Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, as a pompous, backstabbing businessman who climbed to the top via the deceitful manipulation of others.  The movie poses a significant threat to Facebook’s relationship with its users and business partners.

Principle:  “A company is best represented by its people.”

The Page Principle, a company is best represented by its people, was demonstrated by social media giant, Facebook, on Oprah’s Sept. 25th episode.  Mark Zukerberg, the C.E.O. of Facebook appeared on the daytime talk show to present a $100 million check to the New Jersey school systems.

Response: Zuckerberg announced just a few hours before the movie premiered that he would be donating more than $100 million to failing Newark schools. Some have speculated that he is doing so to save his reputation with the film about him coming out, while others have said that the timing is suspect, but that it appears to be an act of generosity, and not an act to save his own tale. 

         By getting out into the public eye, he is giving the 500 million Facebook users (and the world at large) a different perspective of the greedy, vicious Zuckberg depicted in the upcoming film.  This is important because he is not only reaching FB users through this action, he is also reaching the millions of parents who control their children’s computer usage (and FB usage). 

Criticisms: Not so subtle to present $100 mil only a few hours before the movie premier…smart because news picked up on the story, but still it’s an obvious PR stunt.  And after viewers see the billions of dollars Zuckerberg made/is making with Facebook in the movie, $100 mil will seem like just a drop in the bucket.

Question for the Class: Even though Oprah stated several times during the segment that Zuckerberg initially planned on making the donation anonymously, do you think this announcement was perhaps TOO strategically made in its relation to the premier of the new movie?  Or was the timing appropriate?  

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