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Facebook Discloses Incompetence

“Don’t be evil” is the unofficial corporate motto for Google. Apparently Facebook’s unofficial slogan is “Do Be Dumb.”

Seattle NPR station KPIU reports that the social network and the Washington State Attorney General’s office scheduled a joint press conference today at Facebook’s Seattle office.

Invited reporters got an email from the AG’s communications staff this morning saying that if they want to get in they’ll have to sign a “non-disclosure agreement”:

“Facebook asked me to pass this on to you. They require it of all visitors to their facilities. It only applies to things that you might accidentally stumble upon while you are there and covers nothing discussed during our news conference. Please either bring a signed copy or be ready to sign upon arrival.”

The document is full of convoluted, boiler-plate legal mumbo jumbo which may make sense on some occasions — but sends entirely the wrong signal to media invited to the press conference.

Zuckerberg’s boys may be whizzes at social networking but they are zeros when it comes to PR.  You don’t invite a gaggle or reporters into your workspace and tell them “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!” 

Lots of organizations have trade secrets, products, and methods they want to keep under wraps.  But if you can’t literally throw a sheet over secret stuff reporters might “stumble upon” when media visit — then take them somewhere else.  Rent a hotel ballroom.  Do something other than ask the media to sign a silly, over-lawyered document which makes you look paranoid — and dumb.

After a few news organizations such as the Seattle Times and Associated Press refused to sign the non disclosure document, Facebook wisely scrubbed the requirement.

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