No company is immune to a big ole whammy.
Even Google, a well-established company that’s had a number of accusations thrown its way over the years.
The search giant’s latest business-related accusation comes from a Kenyan search engine.
Forbes‘ latest headline is the type of one-liner that can make any CEO cringe and send unprepared crisis communication teams in to a frenzy: Google Accused of Being Evil… in Kenya.
In Kenya, Google is being accused of breaking into a local competitor’s database and soliciting unwarranted items for a price, all in an effort to expand its business and grow its directory. Mocality, Kenya’s largest online directory, is accusing Google of offering a false business partnership designed to lure Mocality’s customers to Google.
According to Mocality, Google was advertising Mocality as a website developer, when it does not develop websites whatsoever. Mocality says it became suspicious of the influx of calls demanding customized websites and investigated what was behind it. The company reportedly found that a team of people from Google IP addresses was breaking into Mocality’s system and cold-calling its clients without permission, offering business owners a customized website for a “small fee.”
Mocality is particularly upset because the company has been paying Kenyan businesses to join its directory for years. And now, under Mocality’s accusations, Google comes in and asks the businesses to pay?
Google needs to nip this crisis in the bud immediately by addressing the accusations.
To date, Google has not commented on the issue and with each ticking second more speculation is building. At this point, the public is left wondering if any of Mocality’s accusations are true or if it is all a big hoax. These are the type of seemingly minute fires that can turn in to a raging mess in no time.
When a crisis beckons, it’s critical to address the issue at hand, apologize and/or defend and move on. By taking zero action, the likelihood of social and media damnation increases and harmful speculation is a near guarantee.
Being a reputable well-prepared company, we anticipate that Google is organizing its facts and preparing to make a solid statement. If they don’t in the coming days, the speculation train will keep rolling along.