Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s now-famous comments about the Kenosha Guard Facebook page that violated the company’s terms – that “the contractors” had failed to remove the page – drew a lot of flack.

Many people feel Facebook should be more vigilant. And of course that’s correct. But there is a larger problem here.

By blaming “contractors” for the error, Zuckerberg is implying that the massive fail wasn’t really Facebook’s responsibility because Facebook employees weren’t at fault. It was those contractors.

There are two very serious problems with this. The first is the suggestion that contractors are somehow independent from the company. They work at Facebook’s direction and they are paid to support Facebook’s business and enforce Facebook’s policies, just like any Facebook employee. No matter the logo on their paycheck, they are part of the Facebook team and the company is responsible for what they do.

The second problem is that Facebook trusts such an important part of their business to people they suggest may be prone to making mistakes and who are subject to lower standards than other employees. If monitoring Facebook pages that may inspire violence and hatred were truly important to the company, they wouldn’t trust those unreliable “contractors” with that task.

Do contract software architects design Facebook’s core platforms? Do contract PR leaders craft messaging to try to dig Facebook out of the awful public messes it gets into? I don’t think so. Those are vital functions. Vital functions aren’t left up to contractors.

Facebook contracts out non-core tasks, like janitorial services, food preparation and keeping the country safe from extremists and hate mongers.

Good managers inspire team members to excel, support them in that pursuit and publicly promote their accomplishments. Only bad managers use their teams as scapegoats to dodge responsibility for their own mistakes.

And only genuinely terrible managers create a corporate caste system in which an entire tier of second-class employees can be blamed for the company’s massive shortcomings.

If Facebook were in the aircraft business and one of their planes had contributed to the deaths of two people in Wisconsin, would they get away with blaming contractors? No, they’d immediately focus the entire company on figuring out what went wrong and make absolutely certain it never happens again.

Do you think that’s what’s happening today at Facebook?


To learn more about how to be a successful manager, read Don’t Be a Dick Manager: The Down & Dirty Guide to Management. It’s the management training you never got, available on Kindle and in paperback from Amazon.com. The audiobook is available from AmazonAudible and iTunes.

Do you think you might be a dick manager? Take the quiz!

“washing-hands” by gea79on is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0