That’s the question that came up recently for Facebook when they were on the receiving end of backlash from their users. Over what? The fact that they had used their members as a sort of social experiment regarding social media and how it functions in our lives.

Initially, Facebook was surprised and probably a bit embarrassed by the whole thing. People were more than a bit incensed when they realized they were being watched and followed throughout the Facebook world.

Now here’s an interesting question: If these same people were told/warned up front that this was going to happen, would the result be the same? Would they be as angry as reported? Chances are, probably not. Why?

I think the issue we have here is one of communication. No one wants to believe that they are being used by somebody, least of all a social media giant like Facebook. This seems to us to be, well, an invasion of privacy. But when we are told up front that this is going to happen, suddenly we have a semblance of control and allowance. We are “allowing” the company to track us, to watch us…because at the end of the day we believe we are the ones who are actually doing the watching.

By enabling them, giving them permission, we are now watching and keeping an eye out for them. But when that choice is taken away from us, we feel duped and forced to remain complicit.

This whole debacle Facebook is in right now with its users is not going to topple the social media giant, but I bet it will cause them to pause next time and think through how they are communicating to their followers.

Which begs the question: How are you communicating with your clients? Are you? Take a page from Facebook’s playbook and…crumple it up and throw it away. Let’s communicate with our people from the very beginning. Take them on the journey with us, rather than telling them after the fact. They will appreciate it for years to come.