Greenpeace's Unfriend Coal Campaign and Facebook
(7 pages of text)
Facebook’s director of policy communications was faced with a situation caused by a YouTube video posted by the non-governmental organization (NGO) Greenpeace. This video publicly critiqued the environmental sustainability of Facebook’s decision to build a new data centre, its main objection being that the new facility would be connected to a local utility provider that supplied electricity mainly from the burning of coal, one of the largest sources of global warming. This video was only the latest of a series of actions, commenced by Greenpeace eight months earlier, immediately following Facebook’s decision to build the new facility. Greenpeace had dubbed these actions the “Unfriend Coal Campaign,” which now had 500,000 followers and had generated numerous media stories. Greenpeace’s goal was to pressure Facebook into adopting cleaner energy policies by leveraging Facebook’s own social media against the company. As Facebook had no plans to stop building the facility, its director needed to figure out the best course of action to take in response to the mounting pressure from Greenpeace, in order to alleviate the increasingly negative attention from media and consumers.
This case is intended to:
- Place students directly into the role of an organization that faces an ethical issue, resulting in mounting public and media attention.
- Give students an opportunity to develop their analytical, communication, and decision-making skills in order to evaluate the current situation and provide a successful solution for Facebook management to initiate.
- Provide an opportunity for students to consider and identify ethical (versus non-ethical) business practices.
- Allow students to explore how NGOs such as Greenpeace use creative and innovative methods to pressure large businesses into making changes.
- Explore how technology and social media are changing the face of communication for businesses and consumers in the marketplace.
Possible areas of focus include company ethics, the changing use of social media, the role of NGOs, and business communication strategies. Course/subject areas include business ethics, business communication, general management, and executive education.
Information, Media & Telecommunications
United States, Large, 2010
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