Nikola's Plan To Combat Its No Good, Very Bad Month Appears To Be Using Copyright To Silence Critics
from the keep-digging dept
PR crisis management is not an easy gig. When a company suffers through a tumultuous period, it is all too easy for a company to try to combat the bad press through all kinds of means that are, in the end, a detriment to the effort. Instead, good PR crisis management follows three chief axioms: don’t lie, don’t try to downplay the severity of the crisis, don’t be afraid to say you screwed up.
Nikola Motor Company is doing a shit job of following this advice. As we detailed recently over the course of a couple of posts, the company is very much in the middle of a PR crises. It began when a hedge fund revealed that Nikoa founder Trevor Milton allegedly flat-out lied to the world about having a working Nikola 1 model in 2016, with the obfuscation going so far as to put out a video of the truck driving down a highway, when the reality was that the truck was rolling down a hill not under its own power. After that public report, Nikola missed the first deadline to have a major partnership deal with General Motors. The stock tanked, massively. Milton suddenly found himself facing two charges of sexual assault, one of them from his own cousin.
If ever there was a time when a company needed to follow good crisis PR protocols, this was it. Instead, the company is apparently quite busy trying to use the DMCA process to silence critics on YouTube.
As noted in a Financial Times report, a number of financial commentator channels on YouTube have reported that they received takedown notices from the hydrogen truck maker, resulting in several videos being removed from the video-sharing platform. In a statement to the publication, Sam Alexander, a Nikola critic and YouTube host, stated that he received notifications on Wednesday that at least four of his videos were reported for copyright infringement. All four of the videos featured sections of the “Nikola One in Motion” ad.
The same was true for fellow content creator Tom Nash, whose finance-themed channel has 41,000 subscribers. According to Nash, he was required to take down three critical Nikola videos including one that featured sections of the rolling Nikola One prototype. Nikola reportedly took issue with Nash’s use of videos that featured its prototype jet ski and hydrogen station as well. “It’s what you would call a death sentence for a creator. This is my livelihood. I have three kids. I quit my job to do this,” Nash told the FT.
Honestly, it’s more that this is what you would call a death sentence for the company trying to abuse copyright law to silence critics who’s critiques clearly fall under fair Uue. Put another way: if the company had a fallback position other than trying to censor its critics, it would have played to that position. Instead, Nikola is very much opening itself to both liability for bullshit DMCA claims and, more importantly, to even further public criticism as a result of the company trying to bury the public’s head in the sand.
Now we’re in pure Streisand territory. As a result of the company trying to bury criticism, that criticism is getting even more play and attention than it already had. If this strategy was thought to be a good idea by those in charge of Nikola, then maybe it truly would be best if the company just bad-acted itself into oblivion.