As you’ve no doubt read, the individual who admittedly leaked government secrets about the National Security Agency’s data-collecting programs was an employee of consulting firm Booz Allen. To make matters worse, this flash appeared late Monday afternoon, June 10th, for the Twitter hashtag @boozallen.
The link led to a story in Forbes magazine that said “anonymous hackers penetrated a server belonging to the defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton and released what it claims are 90,000 military email addresses, encrypted passwords and an assortment of data related to other companies and government networks. It also claims to have accessed and deleted four gigabytes of the firm’s source code.”
It’s a sign of the times that Forbes posted a tweet to draw readers to the article on its own website. The story about the leaked files broke on June 9th and, to its credit, Booz Allen posted this announcement on it website:
Booz Allen Statement on Reports of Leaked Information
Booz Allen can confirm that Edward Snowden, 29, has been an employee of our firm for less than 3 months, assigned to a team in Hawaii. News reports that this individual has claimed to have leaked classified information are shocking, and if accurate, this action represents a grave violation of the code of conduct and core values of our firm. We will work closely with our clients and authorities in their investigation of this matter.
Booz Allen on Social Media
I decided to check if Booz Allen took to the social media airwaves to reassure investors (its stock has predictably fallen), clients and the business community that it deplores Mr. Snowden’s actions.
Twitter. @BoozAllen. The firm posted a tweet on its official Booz Allen Twitter stream dated June 9th with a link to its statement on the firm’s website. If you search #BoozAllen you will find dozens of tweets from news organizations and other Twitter members relating to the scandal. Most of them are not positive. I couldn’t find a tweet on this hashtag from Booz Allen.
The Forbes story said the firm posted this tweet on its Twitter account about the hacking of its website: “As part of
@BoozAllen security policy, we generally do not comment on specific threats or actions taken against our systems.”
LinkedIn. I was pleased to see that Booz Allen posted the leaks statement on its LinkedIn company page and, to date, has received 14 comments, and, interestingly, 34 Likes. It’s important that 34 people – maybe employees, but so what – in support of the firm. Nothing yet about the hacked military addresses.
Facebook. The company posted its announcement on its Facebook page and at this writing had 71 Likes (good) and dozens of comments that were mainly negative. Again, nothing yet about the hacked military addresses.
Most people on Facebook and the other social media sites couldn’t understand how a firm as prestigious as Booz Allen would hire an employee without a college degree, or even a high school degree, in such a sensitive position.
Google+. Booz Allen has a company page but it’s only a placeholder. Posting to Google+ has the potential to boost a company’s SERP (Search Engine Page Results). Another missed opportunity.
A company never knows when a crisis will strike. Every organization’s crisis communications plan needs to include a social media component. It’s too late to open an account on the major social media networks after the fact. These social media sites need to updated continuously as new developments unfold.
As I’ve written before, companies can and should engage their employees as brand advocates on social media, not only in promoting the firm’s products and services but posting breaking announcements from the company when bad things happen.
I hope Booz Allen engages its employees in telling the firm’s side of the story as things seem to go from bad to worse for this storied consulting firm.