(Mis)Uses of Technology

by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
apologies, pr

facebook, imgur, reddit

Facebook Engineer Apologizes Via Reddit For Accidentally Blocking Imgur Across Facebook

from the web-3.0 dept

Here's an odd one. Yesterday, I saw that a top story in the technology subreddit was a claim that Facebook was blocking Imgur, the popular image hosting service (especially popular with Redditors, but which we use here as well). This screenshot was shown (hosted on Imgur, natch):
A few hours later, however, an interesting comment popped up on the Reddit thread, from a user "fisherrider," who claimed to be a Facebook engineer taking responsibility for the situation. What's somewhat stunning is that when companies screw up something, you almost never get this level of honesty about the nature of what happened (especially directly from the person who screwed up):
Hey folks - so this is actually my fault. Literally, I'm the guy who accidentally blocked imgur for a brief period of time today. I'm really sorry. Some background: I'm an engineer who works on the system we use for catching malicious URLs. In the process of dealing with a bad URL that our automated defenses didn't catch, I ran into a rare bug that caused us to incorrectly block some legitimate URLs for a brief time. Right after I figured that out and removed the bad data, I reworked the UI so no one will get bit by the same issue in the future. As a form of apology that I'm sure is insufficient, here is a picture of my dog dressed up for the 4th of July: https://imgur.com/pR4mR
As some have noted, this really is a fantastic apology. It's not filtered through PR and actually seems to come from someone who sounds human -- which is pretty important in the midst of the Reddit faithful. But it should spread beyond just Reddit. When companies screw up, this is a pretty good lesson in how to respond. Admit to the screwup, be clear and honest about it, and explain what happened and what's been done to prevent it from happening again. And... don't let it near a PR person.

Reader Comments

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jul 2012 @ 11:03am

    I have no concerns about Facebook. Don't care if it craters tomorrow and never gets revived.

    My comment is more along the lines of the honesty of the engineer. It's a shame in this day and age of personal evaluation into job performance that this level of honesty in admitting a mistake isn't recognized for the quality of the employee.

    No one that does things is going to have a perfect record on screw ups. They are going to happen unless you do nothing day after day. When they do, the employee that says, 'It's my fault and this is what I did', just saved his company tons of money in trouble shooting. They know where the problem is and exactly how it occurred and can figure out how to fix it the quickest.

    It seems only management needs someone to blame so it isn't their fault. Companies need the above honesty to run the place well.

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