Activist Forced to Apologize 100 times via Twitter

A Malaysian social activist who publicly criticized (via Twitter) the way his pregnant friend was being treated by her employer was forced to apologize 100 times also via Twitter as part of a defamation settlement with BluInc Media, the aforementioned employer.

Fahmi Fadzil, an opposition politician’s aide and respected commentator on social issues, claimed on Twitter in January that his pregnant friend had been poorly treated by her employers at a magazine run by BluInc Media.

Fahmi wrote an apology to BluInc on Twitter a few hours after making that allegation, but the company’s lawyers later sent him a letter demanding unspecified financial damages for defamation and another apology in major newspapers, said Fahmi’s lawyer, Syahredzan Johan.

Syahredzan said Fahmi settled the case this week by agreeing to apologize 100 times over three days on Twitter, where he has more than 4,200 followers. Syahredzan declined to say who suggested the terms. AP via Yahoo

This seems ridiculous. First off, the first apology is the only apology that matters. Beyond that, it becomes rote, mechanical and ludicrous without meaning. And annoying. I’m sure that Fahmi’s 4,200 followers got it the first time.

Fahmi’s actions irritate me. My feeling is that the employee should avail him or herself of either a manager or HR should he or she feel that something isn’t right. If not HR, then the employe should find someone else in the company who has any sort of authority to report the alleged wrongdoing.

If there truly isn’t any such route available, then I can see where someone could get frustrated enough to want to post it publicly, however passive aggressive (albeit potentially self-destructive) the act may be. But no matter how frustrated the employee may feel, it still doesn’t give an him/her or any other third party claiming to represent the employee to publicly the right accuse a company of wrongdoing in a public forum. It’s a one way allegation. And if an employee (or third party) really wants to address and solve an issue, there is a need for two way conversation.

It’s about the employee/employer relationship. An employer has a duty to provide a safe working environment for its employees and the employee has a duty to follow the process and procedures of a company. If either of those tenets break down, the breakdown needs to be addressed within the organization.

I’ll admit that I don’t know what the issue was, nor am I sure that the accusation Fahmi made in itself wasn’t valid. Big companies can do horrible things in all aspects of business. I just don’t think that throwing an accusation up on Twitter was the most constructive way to handle the situation. Nor do I think it reflected very well on Fahmi himself.

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. [Jezebel]

This being said, however, I don’t think it hurt his popularity in any way. He now has 5,529 Twitter followers, 1300 more than when he started.