Would you apologize?

One of the videos making the rounds recently was of a woman throwing a massive hissy fit at the Hong Kong airport when she arrived too late at her gate and wasn't allowed to board her Cathay Pacific flight. The clip's been viewed over 5 million times on YouTube.

Now, Cathay Pacific has issued an apology for the videotaping the incident, and “the inconvenience and embarrassment she may have suffered as a result.” They claim that, while their employee shot the incident, someone else posted it online (not sure how that happened).

They've also offered her free upgrades in the future, and sat through a four-hour meeting to discuss her grievances (although she is not requesting any compensation).

This brings up an interesting intersection between the workplace and technology. Employees are often carrying powerful technology in their hands, whether it's the latest netbook or a smartphone with a great camera.

What does this mean for IT managers? Will they be called in more often to help draft policies for what employees can film or not film, and what penalties might await them if they post the offending footage on YouTube?

In this case, I side with the airline. Granted, in this media-crazy age, it wouldn't be in their best interest to do nothing if the woman put up a fuss in the newspapers and TV show rounds. But, in principle, what's really wrong with this scenario?

The woman was acting ridiculous in a public place, and was in the wrong (she arrived too late for her flight). I suppose it's a slippery-slope fear that the public and now corporations have: customers might get mighty cranky, for instance, if they thought their complaints at customer service booths were being filmed, or their dance moves while testing a CD.

In this case, however, the woman comes out looking ridiculous, and the airline as a little bit put upon. As IT decisionmakers, it might become more common to urge employees to use discretion when making videos, but, in this case, this lady got the comeuppance she deserved, five million times over.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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