Perhaps I should title this episode, “What Doesn’t Make a Leader.” If you haven’t read the new privacy settings of everyone’s favorite social network, well, who could blame you? Let’s face it. Facebook may be the most important thing in the world to Big Z, but to you and me and most people, it’s simply a distraction to help pass the time in the bathroom.
Facebook was the final iteration of a website birthed out of a drunken tirade after being dumped by his girlfriend during which Big Z considered comparing the women of Harvard to farm animals. Fast forward a few years. We little people start hearing about this new website – “Have you heard of Facebook?” and so we check it out, much the same way we checked out MySpace, eBay, and the Hampster Dance — and we’d eventually laugh at Glozell and agree with the “Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That!” lady. My reason for pointing all this out is to provide some context.
The context is this: It’s just a website! It’s not that big of a deal. When we signed up for Facebook, few if anyone ever suspected that the intimate and personal details of their lives would be up for grabs to whomever wanted them. We certainly didn’t foresee the advent of Facebook claiming in the thousands of words of their policies that they can turn your phone on and record you without your permission. Oh, sure, we clicked the box saying we’d read the updated policy, but everyone knows no one reads those. And here’s where the leadership lesson comes in.
Just because you can claim legality because you snuck it into the fine print doesn’t mean it’s right.
This is just some silly website! Yes, I realize it’s a $20 billion company now. So is P&G. That doesn’t mean I give them the right to monitor me in the bathroom every time I use one of their products. It’s just toothpaste, for crying out loud. If you violate my trust, I’ll go somewhere else and you will never get my trust again. Stick that in your fine print.
I’ve touched on this before, but I think it’s worth hammering in light of Facebook’s beautifully hideous example as they try, oh so ineptly, to make their privacy rules easier for the unwashed masses (that’s you and me) to understand.
The bottom line: Leaders don’t do stuff like this. Slimy salesmen do. And people who want to go out of business.