This article was published on July 31, 2012

Hey Twitter, you don’t send a lawyer to do a CEO’s job

Hey Twitter, you don’t send a lawyer to do a CEO’s job
Brad McCarty
Story by

Brad McCarty

A music and tech junkie who calls Nashville home, Brad is the Director TNW Academy. You can follow him on Twitter @BradMcCarty. A music and tech junkie who calls Nashville home, Brad is the Director TNW Academy. You can follow him on Twitter @BradMcCarty.

Twitter, I want you to understand something. What you did today, in having your general counsel pen a response to the Guy Adams fiasco, was insulting. It was a completely wrongheaded move that will forever change how people see your company. Since I’m dealing with a lawyer here I’d like to point out that what is contained herein is my opinion. It just happens to be the opinion of a lot of other people as well, and they don’t have the platform to express it that I do.

Today’s response was Dick’s job. It was time for him to put on his smile face, step up onto your self-crafted soapbox and eat a hefty dose of crow. The CEO is the face of your company. Today, you chose to make that face a lawyer. Maybe you haven’t noticed, but people seem to have a general distaste for lawyers and the legal profession. People tend to like your CEO. He’s an amiable guy. He’s a much better choice to represent your company. That’s one reason why he’s the CEO.

I do understand that Alex McGillivray is a “champion of free speech”. Perhaps that’s why you chose to put him out front. But I’d also venture to say that most people have absolutely no clue of his background, other than his title of general counsel. That’s a problem.

But not only did he muck up the presentation, he also used words that were extremely poorly chosen. Let me break this down for you as to how the rest of the world likely read what he wrote today:

“We want to take a moment to explain some of our general Trust and Safety policies and procedures, and address the specific case at hand that has unfolded over the past 48-hours”

You want to what? Explain? Here’s an idea – apologize. You owed it to your users. We are the currency that is being traded on your network. We’re the chips that you’re cashing in, with hopes that your company will continue. Without us, you don’t exist. Get it?

“The Trust and Safety team does not actively monitor users’ content.”

Oh? Well that’s good. Thank you. Sincerely.

“That said, we want to apologize for the part of this story that we did mess up.”

Ah, there’s the apology. A bit late in the text, being in the next-to-last paragraph and all, but at least it’s present.

“The team working closely with NBC around our Olympics partnership did proactively identify a Tweet…”

But wait. Didn’t you just say that this is exactly what you don’t do? So which is it? Now I’m not sure whether I believe what else you’ve told me.

“As I stated earlier, we do not proactively report or remove content on behalf of other users no matter who they are. This behavior is not acceptable and undermines the trust our users have in us.”

This is now a lie. You do and you did “proactively report” content. You can’t tell me that you did it, then turn around and say that you don’t. You can say it’s your goal to not do this, or that you did and it’s a mistake. Heck, you can even tell me that you’ll never do it again. You positively can NOT tell me that you don’t do it. That’s not true.

You screwed up today, Twitter. You put the wrong guy out front and then you told him to give an inaccurate representation of the truth. Call that a lie if you will, and many will do just that. Today was Dick’s time to stand up and address a very important issue. It didn’t happen and it was more than a mistake, it was a monumental screw-up.

Business 101 – You never send a lawyer to do the CEO’s job.

Image: Sam Howzit

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