Why Apple Inc. and Facebook aren’t friends

(Image courtesy of Techbeat)

So in the past few weeks, I have talked about how social technologies are an invaluable (yet free or low cost … funny paradox isn’t it?) marketing tool for organizations to enhance their brand, communication, collaboration as well as a means to boost productivity and sales.

However what issues can arise out of the business use of social media?

Let’s talk about Apple Inc. once again. Being one of the biggest companies in the world its interesting to note that they don’t have an official Facebook page. What is the reason for this? Why wouldn’t apple want to have Twitter, YouTube or even Tumbler?

Whilst this is a broad question, there are several answers that give insight to their anti-external social media campaign, outside of the social interaction that occurs within their official website/forum (Apple Support Communities). One general reason of why Apple has not ventured to these social technologies can be explained by the legal issues that pertain to creating these profiles, in which are related to legal issues, risks and reputation.

Apple is known to be secretive when it comes to their products and new releases as well as any business secrets. Having a Facebook/Twitter page puts their company at risk of exposure. Intellectual property issues, disclosure/control and defamation of confidential information all spring to mind. What would happen if an disgruntled employee posted information on their Facebook page highlighting all of the details of the next iPhone before it hit the markets, or even then what would happen to Apple’s share price, and what do Apple’s competitors such as Samsung have to gain from finding this information.

Apple’s reputation is at stake whenever any media or customer’s respond to their products, services etc. Without adequate control over who or what can go onto their Facebook page, (in which can be difficult Facebook). The amount of good/bad publicity is growing everyday, Apple’s fan base is incredibly large, and the last thing Apple want’s is for people leaking sensitive information. BBC News even discusses how Apple has slapped bloggers lawsuits over publishing such information over the internet.

Even social technologies such as LinkedIn have proven to be a threat to companies like Apple, demonstrated by Malcolm Burrow in his article where he explains that employee malpractice or even lack of knowledge can mean uploading employee email address-books to these social sites, subsequently, breaching information assets and even leading to future cases of spam emails.

It is also interesting to note that even though Apple doesn’t have any official pages, there is still a large number of ‘fake’ or ‘unofficial’ Apple Facebook pages floating around the internet, which poses a severe risk to Trade mark infringement or even defamation of Apple as a company. Have a look at these two fan pages which have 9.5 million likes and 1.2 million likes respectively. What’s even more concerning is that one of these pages are full of people’s comments/recommendations on Apple as a company and its products. Although some of these comments might be harmless and commending Apple, you can also see the nasties that appear. One of these comments even has curse words and other comments describe their frustrations and hatred to Apple (see below image, press to enlarge).

appleapple2

(Images by Author)

The other issue in which organizations face is of the grey area of where an employee work’s for a business and what they may post during their private life.  Whilst the normal employee may not post anything slanderous or leak any information assets publicly, companies need to ensure that they are protected and are able to act if this were to happen. If you don’t believe that it could happen, have a look at this huge list of 689 published cases involving social media evidence. Furthermore, the power of social media stems even further than personal or organisational use, the negative impact of the social ‘voice’ can have a detrimental impact on events even like fair court trails as ECU explains.

To combat this, companies need to establish a Social Media Policy (SMP), and Burrow explains its use as:

supplement[ing] a contract of employment to be legally enforceable by an organisation on its employees. The aim of an SMP is to clearly communicate what is acceptable conduct on Social Networking Sites by an organisations employees and contractors and what conduct is unacceptable and would make an employee liable to dismissal… [It is a] high level document that communicates how an organisation plans to participate within social media”.

By prescribing such a policy, organizations can control or assign information owners and make them liable for what they potentially post online.  This in turn mitigates the risk of companies being exposed and left reputationally damaged.

Finally it is clear that whether a company utilizes social technologies or not, they should be made aware of any potential ‘fake’ or ‘fan’ pages that are created on their behalf and that the company should at least reserve any domain names in order to mitigate the risk of defamation or damage to reputation.

Dear Tim Cook, please look out for the fake Apple pages, and I know its hard but lets get more apple social sites, yes?

Thanks for reading and see you guys next week.

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37 thoughts on “Why Apple Inc. and Facebook aren’t friends

  1. Homepage says:

    Much thanks! It a great web page!

  2. Great Post as usual Xavier!
    I didn’t know Apple was so against the use of Social Networks but I understand the risks they present to Apple now. You mention that one of the reasons Apple will not venture into social networks is because of legal issues. Could you provide further information on these legal issues?

    • xavier1610 says:

      Hey Dilen, the legal issues are mainly the breach of confidentiality agreements that may occur that may cause harm to the company. Leaking of information assets such as emails can also breach privacy, reputation and defamation all in which can result in legal issues or even lawsuits against apple.

  3. alquette.pl says:

    I think this website has some really great information for everyone : D.

  4. adenjones says:

    An interesting post. I had no idea that Apple has an anti social media policy.

    However I don’t think that their policy is a good idea. As you have outlined in your article, fans are now creating Facebook pages etc and, as Apple haven’t created these pages themselves, they have no control over them. Essentially it is better to be sitting on the back of the mad bull then to be staring it down.

    I think we will be hearing of cases in the future where some Organisations order the take down of fan created social media sites. And I thoroughly agree with you, a well thought out social media policy with damage control strategies is essential to dealing with risks associated with this “New World Order” of social media.

    Very insightful

    • xavier1610 says:

      Thanks for your awesome comment Aden, it still puzzles me why they are still so secretive, but I guess it’s working, people still love the hype and can’t wait for new releases with no secrets revealed. Finding new methods of damage control for social technologies is something I think needs to be developed in the long run for companies that want to engage these platforms.

  5. Great post Xavier!
    I am surprised that Apple has chosen not to have official facebook or twitter pages. I can understand that they wish to limit negative outcomes however, it seems that negative situations can still arise from the unofficial pages. I would have thought it would be better for Apple to control their own facebook pages so that they could remove negative comments or reply to them.

    • xavier1610 says:

      I guess it’s difficult to moderate so many comments in the long run, imagine if they got millions of comments a day, their staff would be overrun, when simply they could just moderate their own apple discussions. That’s my theory anyways. But like you I also think they should at least try pushing the boundary and try and get into other media platforms. 🙂

  6. cwang4e says:

    Hi Xavier, after read your post, I don’t think Apple’s “avoiding media” policy is such a good idea. We both know everything has its two edges, the SMS could push reputation in risk, however it also could help the organisation to communicate with public. Working behind closed doors doesn’t seems would help at all.

    • xavier1610 says:

      Yes it’s quite strange at what lengths apple has gone to protect itself, and strangely enough it is working, but imagine how much more the brand could be if they engaged other social technologies.

  7. A solid look at why Apple would disregard social media, to be honest I wasn’t actually aware of that. It just goes to show how much of a threat/how much Apple needs control.

  8. Great post X!
    I work in the telecom industry (heavily with apple) and actually had no idea they didn’t have a Facebook haha…
    You said that there are two fake Apple Facebook accounts and customers are posting questions and comments onto them. In my opinion, it is very important for Apple to create a Facebook page so as to control these fake pages. Or even to use legal action to have them closed. What are your thoughts?

    • xavier1610 says:

      I agree, at the very least reserve these pages even if they are not going to use them as official pages, or contact FB to have them removed. The comments can be quite negative and I don’t think apple needs the negative publicity.

  9. roycekuma says:

    Apart from their own apple support communities, I am personally very happy with their support via email. This ‘avoiding’ of social media sure helps its secrecy. Yet, I am more curious of their SMP about employees in after hours. After all, an unhappy employee could still complain on his fb. Does anyone know any fb friend who works at apple?

  10. Thanks Xavier for this valuable post..
    You surprised me when I read that, big company such as Apple does not have an Facebook page, but when the reason is known the surprise is blown..
    My question to you is that, do you think Apple does not use Facebook never?
    I think although Apple does not have a Facebook page, it used Facebook to apply Social Media Listening to know about what people say about the company and thier products. Social Media Listening is a new marketing art based on the huge efforts made ​​in the analysis of what people are saying about your product or company on social networks sites and the effectiveness of eavesdropping on social networks come through smart and deep analysis of what the audience say but the real effectiveness comes from the organization’s ability to learn and realizes about what people are saying hear and make quick steps to avoid it in the future. Regards to that I remember, Dell company is one of the distinctive companies in the world in dealing with social media has established “Social Media Listening Command Center” which means that this art is an essential task for any company that wants to grow and develop through the understanding of the audience and respond to their wishes.

    • xavier1610 says:

      It would be interesting to see how much facebook is used within their organisation internally, especially since IOS is heavily integrated with Facebook and Twitter. Perhaps they use it quite frequently but their SMP restricts staff from posting any confidential information online 🙂

  11. brantsmith89 says:

    Very good read. I think it’s a really interesting approach to discuss the legal ramifications of social media by discussing a company that uses none and applies the theory to justify why they don’t. Apple is a company that has a lot of loyal fans but also a lot of passionate haters that wouldn’t hesitate to posts negative things all over their Facebook page or Twitter. Their actually quite smart in that regard. But they acknowledge that feedback from users and offering online support is necessary so they meet that need and just moderate the content.

    Does Facebook currently employ the ability to declare a page as ‘official’ the way that Twitter does? Having fake accounts on Twitter seem to pose less of a threat than on Facebook because users can immediately identify if the ‘tweeter’ is an official account or not which decreases potential for trademark infringement. Regardless, by holding all their information close to their chest they are keeping their content unique. I wonder about how open they are to feedback and how they obtain it.

    But otherwise, I think it’s interesting how a company can maintain such a presence in the market place and stay so elusive with no social media engagement. Do you think that’s specific to the nature of this company or the general popularity?

    • xavier1610 says:

      Interesting thoughts, it would be very beneficial if facebook could make pages official, thereby creating better authenticity of social profiles. Apple still does have social media engagement but only through their website/forum, they are lucky that they are an established brand that other blogs have done the social media for them, and sites like http://www.macrumors.com are a prime example of this :), conversely if you view a company like microsoft, they have a facebook page and utilise it to the fullest extent to attract customers and obtain feedback.

  12. rhysmcg says:

    Wow seriously? I’m so surprised that Apple doesn’t embrace social media platforms but still manages to be in the high end of the market! That was interesting to read Xavier. As far as the opposition is concerned, do you think it’d be a wise move to embrace social media? By Samsung embracing social media, do you think they hold an advantage, disadvantage or no advantage? Very cool, look forward to the next one! 🙂

    • xavier1610 says:

      Haha, Apple has always been the ‘hip’ company the one and only, the independent beast. I think as their brand is quite established, and as I explained to Brant earlier, they already utilise their own social media through their website, and other websites and blogs are already providing apple with free marketing. I think with samsung and other companies, they are running both opportunity and risks in their social profiles, and as we can see, it only takes one bad post and the company can be defamed or have its reputation tarnished. If apple can maintain their own social media platform as opposed to utilising other external technologies and still connect with customers, then I believe that they can stay strong 🙂

  13. shadoxz says:

    I feel like the keeping everything a secret is just apples method of a business practice. One where no-body knows anything to keep people guessing whereas other brands who release information in advance makes people want to buy it the second it comes out. People have become a bit naive to expect that the next product from apple will always be the next best thing (not saying at all that it can’t be) but I just feel like there are too many people buying apple products without actually knowing anything about them just because everyone else says they are elite purchases.

    Sorry for the semi anti apple rant, just shows how good your post was haha. XD

    • xavier1610 says:

      haha, yes I do agree, I don’t like how it can be somewhat of a trend, and people are consciously buying into apple just because everyone else is. Worse yet people buying mac ooks and just running windows on it. ???? crazy huh? haha. But that is something that comes with a brand, and the way they are marketing it is working effectively, and by being secrative they are able to protect themselves quite well in the long run 🙂

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  17. HEE RAK says:

    Good Blog Post Xavier!

    I didn’t know that Apple has chosen not to have official facebook or twitter pages.
    I think they try to reduce the negative outcomes but it seems like negative outcomes still come out from the other side.I think they would better to have their own facebook pages control.
    Well done Xavier!
    cheers

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