Opinion: Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg Is Getting Accountability Pass Because She Is A White Woman
If Sheryl Sandberg was the angel that media and PR campaigns suggested, she would have quit by now.
Mark Zuckerberg, the geek who cheated his early business partners out of their ideas and shares — and then settled lawsuits — is an easy punching bag for the media and the American public. However, I believe there is massive bias in media reporting which puts all the accountability on Zuckerberg and covers up the accountability of Sandberg,
Facebook’s chief operating officer and No. 2 executive.
When there were calls for Peter Thiel to resign from Facebook’s board of directors over his involvement in a lawsuit against Gawker, Sandberg spoke publicly in Thiel’s support.
The argument from one journalist was, it wasn’t Sandberg’s decision, she was just riding along on the decision of others.
The media seemed to come to her defense as if she shouldn’t be held accountable for keeping Thiel on the board of directors.
Before the political backlash against Facebook for embracing and marketing Russian ads aimed at undermining U.S. democracy, the media would use labels to describe Sandberg such as “Facebook’s Grown-Up Face” or “The First Lady of Facebook.
“While Facebook was winning, Sandberg rode the wave. She authored two books including “Lean In” and led PR campaigns which led some to speculate she would be running for political office soon.
I believe the political office door for Sandberg has been shut ahead of the coming massive populist backlash against what she helped manage and design. She will need to own her mess at Facebook. Just as Sandberg got credit for the Facebook upside, she must now face the music for the collapsed trust and tarnished brand image of the institution she helps lead.
The pattern of evidence points to Sandberg sharing Mark Zuckerberg’s values. She should not get a pass because she is a white woman.
Here is a list of things Sandberg should be held accountable for along with Zuckerberg:
- Promoting advertising campaigns aimed at Facebook users as young as 14 that exploit their emotional states.
- The European Union fining Facebook $122 million for lying to regulators about the WhatsApp acquisition.
- Peter Thiel remaining on Facebook’s board. Thiel is a Trump supporter and co-wrote a book while at Stanford — “The Diversity Myth” — attacking multiculturalism and affirmative action. Thiel also reportedly supported apartheid in South Africa and he helped Hulk Hogan attack online media company Gawker after it published a video of Hogan using the N-word.
- Facebook’s lack of security controls and putting profit ahead of the public good.
- Facebook’s lack of diversity. The most recent numbers show things are not moving at all in the company’s workforce. After facing heat over Russian ads, Sandberg told the Congressional Black Caucus that Facebook would add an African American to its board. This effort feels forced, as if the board has no real conviction about this move to diversify. The pipeline excuse doesn’t really work at the board level.
- Facebook’s lack of awareness in its role in taking so much advertising revenue and data out of the media and publishing ecosystem and putting very little of value back in — essentially bombing society with a “dumb bomb.”
Whether with race or gender, the public needs to go beyond “optical diversity” and accept that there are Black people and white women who are immoral, amoral or too greedy to pass up status and monetary gain in favor of basic values and principles.
Even if the No. 2 executive at Facebook wasn’t a powerful white woman, I don’t think much would change in terms of why liberals and conservatives alike both hate Facebook.