Twitter Apology Update: Mission Accomplished
Last week, we discussed the punishment of Fahmi Fadzil, who was found to responsible for defaming BluInc Media & Female Magazine concerning the company’s apparent treatment of a friend of Fadzil. While defending his companion, Fadzil posted a tweet that the company in question didn’t treat pregnant women fairly, which led us to the Fadzil’s Twitter punishment phase.
For his offending tweet concerning BluInc Media, Fadzil was ordered to issue an apology via Twitter, but instead of just issuing one apology to make things right,
the Malaysian court ordered Fadzil to essentially an out-of-court settlement was reached that had Fadzil write his apology on the chalkboard over and over again to the tune of 100 times. As of Friday’s post, Fadzil had reached 70 apologies, which said:
I’ve DEFAMED Blu Inc Media & Female Magazine. My tweets on their HR Policies are untrue. I retract those words & hereby apologize.
Simple enough, especially in this, the age of copy and paste commands. In order to differentiate his apologies, Fadzil numbered each tweet, and his 100th was posted on June 4, and it received over 100 retweets. Of course, by that time, Fadzil’s story had hit the mainstream wires, appearing in a number of noteworthy publications, which Fadzil documented at his blog. One of the sites in question, Jezebel.com, questions the effectiveness of such tweets, and wonders if the punishment damages Fadzil’s reputation, reducing his effectiveness as an activist:
In addition to being humiliating for Fadzil, it will probably be really annoying for his 4,200-plus followers, some of whom may well unfollow him to avoid being subjected to his half-hourly apologies. The penalty may also damage his credibility as an activist — how much will his readers trust him after he’s agreed to retract one of his statements 100 times? BluInc probably considered all of this when negotiating the settlement, and in a way the punishment they arrived at is pretty ingenious.
As for Fadzil seeing a reduction in followers because of his apologetic tweets, in fact, the opposite happened. While he may have lost a member or two of his core audience, Fadzil’s Twitter follower count actually increased to over 5500, an increase of over 1300 followers. Conversely, Fadzil’s follower increase undoubtedly was a result of his story hitting the wires, so there’s no telling how many of his additional followers actually care about the causes he supports.
Was this an effective manner of punishment or, considering the instantaneous nature of the Internet news cycle, will Fadzil’s story be soon forgotten, reducing its potential impact?