Bits from Bill

Technology thoughts leaking from the brain of "Bill Pytlovany"

Sunday, December 22, 2013

What Could Make Me Feel Sorry for IAC

After observing how our society behaved online for over 30 years I often share a simple bit of advice. Before you post ask yourself, “What good will come from this?”. Former IAC PR executive Justine Sacco didn’t know about my advise before sending her last tweet on her way to South Africa.


What made this particular remark exceptional was that Ms. Sacco was soon in the air on a 12 hour flight with no Wi-Fi access. Her tweet generated a social network atomic bomb. She had no way of knowing the firestorm she had created and had no way do to damage control.

By the time Justine landed in the country of her birth, her employer had disavowed her comment and removed her from their website.


This was IAC’s Media Kit web page before Ms.iac5 Sacco left on her flight. Before landing IAC had already updated their PR contact info.(see on right)

Photos taken at the South African airport show her on a cell phone. The offending tweet was soon removed and her account was deleted.

I’m no friend of the company IAC even though they once offered to make me a millionaire. For a while I started to feel bad for IAC. I soon recalled all the Email from frustrated customers wanting help removing the invasive toolbars. As of today, a total of 166,948 WinPatrol users have removed its Mindspark toolbar not counting the same toolbar with different names.

IAC owns a variety of Internet companies but the #1 method of promoting their properties is based on taking over a computers’ search using a variety of toolbars and hijackers. They’re the folks behind and the distribution of different toolbar brands like Mindspark. My major complaint with IAC is their ability to look the other way while affiliates create malware preventing the removal of Ask toolbars and search hijackers. They also have been slow to address complaints about perverts using Internet services like Zwinky marketed exclusively to children.

The first time I reviewed the company Board of Directors I was surprised to see the likes of General Norman Schwarzkopf and William H. Berkman as in the “Berkman Center For Internet & Society at Harvard Law School.”  The board has changed but now includes future presidential candidate Chelsea Clinton. Ms. Clinton did her part representing IAC by retweeting a published response prior to Ms. Sacco’s plane landing.


I felt this story was an important lesson and regret posting it the day after IAC suffered from a second more personal lose. The father of IAC Board Director, Edgar Bronfman, Jr. died on Saturday. The senior Bronfman was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1999. I’ve followed the family since having a brief connection when Samuel Bronfman was kidnapped in 1975.

After taking some time to gather her thoughts Justine Sacco did publish an apology today. She addressed her apology correctly to the people of South Africa and not the audience on social media. I hope everyone who felt they were a part of this disaster will use this as a learning experience. Many of the comments I read weren’t the most sensitive I’ve seen.

I’ll say it again, before you press Enter or click “Tweet” or “Post” ask yourself, “What good will come of this?” I just need to get this off my chest is not a good answer.

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Blogger Frank said...

I am not a tweeter or much of a poster type person in keeping with the age old adage "open mouth , insert foot" is sage advice.
I appreciated your take on this situation and could not agree more with your "What good can come of this...".
Thanks for all your writings and works...I am a long time fan.
Best of 2014 to you and yours,

4:02 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

How right you are. Luckily for me I have a watchdog (my wife) who has to pass judgement before I send my latest important thoughts. All to often she rewrites or totally removes the scathing messages I want to express to get things off of my chest. Doing this is a nice release safety valve, just don't hit send. Thanks for your great article.

4:42 PM  
Blogger The Phœnix said...

I do not know if this will pass the triple-redundancy-check of "what good can come of this?" (what it will be, is definitely long-winded, if you would bear with me, please)
I have always believed that information is something to be responsibly shared (or else, if I am wrong, and people must be shielded from reality, then providing information must be like spreading a plague of truth).
Personally, I think that I prefer young Malala Yousefzir's advice to the United Nations, and to the planet (forgive me the paraphrasing, please)---"...if information is free, then the Truth will set you Free".
The woman, under discussion, bound for South Africa, as an individual herself, is not, in just my own opinion, an example of accuracy, common sense, or of any tolerance towards other persons as individuals. I am Canadian, and live in British Columbia; one of Canada's Royal Family, the greatly missed, late Princess of Wales, broke all rules of social convention, & of medical mis-information, when she first held the hand of one of the early identified victims of AIDS---people were shocked, aghast, even expecting her to abruptly fall over dead; but she had never worn the trademark 'royal' gloves, and could not be stopped from taking the hand of anyone needing
that so simple of gestures---that says, in effect, "...I know you're hurting; can I help?" far more clearly than words.
AIDS is not a contagious disease; one can be infected but it cannot be 'caught'. However, the
amount of pigment in the skin does not increase or decrease one's chance of infection if one is involved in doing what will transmit the infection---and that isn't just holding hands. There are millions of different
strains of AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa---but the global pandemic (something non-respective of person, age, or pigmentation) is just one variant---Period. Meaning that it has since been traced to a single person, male,
sexual orientation unknown, who arrived in mid-America on an ordinary plane-flight from outside the States; he had to have been so ill that he would have died within the month---but he was the sole-source transmitter of the variant that is now found globally, even in new-born infants---already infected via their mother. Medical science cannot cure it, cannot reduce its length-to-kill significantly, cannot keep HIV (which is treatable, just not curable) from morphing into AIDS, and thus into the inevitable prolonged dying that is
beyond the bounds of current medical knowledge to control.
But it is not contagious, it is infectious. The commonest method of transmission is so complex and involved, that by the time doctors identified it, it was as something "limited" to just 400 homosexual men having the immune characteristics of it in the early 1980s.
Yet despite the best effects of homophobia (and, later (apparently), racism---a pretty pair of mortal diseases in themselves)---it was known to be a global pandemic before the decade was out.
That single person, with a destination in the States, whose variant of AIDS spread across the entire planet---took that flight in 1968.
And a non-contagious, but lethal disease was planet-wide inside of two decades. This woman's apparent belief in her natural immunity---from being visibly 'white' (or 'pink', rather) may become reality-challenged, should she become interested in having, say, a nice summer tan. And there is her natural, innate protection---gone.
One hopes she is cautious about dating if she decides to go and pay for an all-over, salon tanning; the consequences, as she is acutely aware, could catastrophic.
On that note, I shall fold up my tents, and vanish into the desert night---or the web. Or Net. Whichever.

5:27 PM  

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