I was asked yesterday to comment for this Wall Street Journal's "Morning Risk Report" piece published today "Companies Shed Nazi Users to Protect Their Reputation" on what the tech sector needs to do to protect and maintain its reputation in the midst of the onslaught of hate speech, violent extremist group talk and action.
Here is a quote:
"...clients, who may file a discrimination claim if their service is dropped. Andrea Bonime-Blanc, chief executive officer of GEC Risk Advisory, said companies purging their user base "might go too far", with innocent parties getting caught in the dragnet. "Tech companies are damned if they do and damned if they don´t on this issue"
"Ms. Bonime-Blanc said tech firms are increasingly being driven to find new algorithms and other methods to prevent hate speech and incitement from spreading in the first place, comparing it to what global companies do to comply with laws against bribery, money laundering and corruption. "Some tech companies may feel that this is the only way forward, given the exponential risk tech companies are taking in allowing such fringe groups from spreading violence and hate"
In addition to what I said for the article, I have the following general thoughts and recommendations for Tech companies and their leaders as they find themselves caught at the center of one of the critical geopolitical risk issues of our time, pitting free speech and democracy against censorship and authoritarianism:
- Understand what your reputation risks are and layer that analysis on top of your critical risk framework
- Know your key stakeholders and cater to them - your reputation and reputation risk are directly impacted
- Sustainability trumps short-termism - stay true to your organizational core values even when it's hard to do so.
- Be an enlightened and responsible leader and don't cave to being superficial or irresponsible in a time that is so fraught and so important
We live in fraught times that offer what seem to be many more risks than opportunities but I am fond of saying that with every risk there is opportunity - you just have to look for them and be persistent and resilient in the process.
Send me your reactions and thoughts on all this. Check out some of my latest work here and download the e-book, Understanding Reputation Risk: The Qualitative and Quantitative Imperative, recently co-written with Dr. Leonard Ponzi.