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Bilbo's Journey

How Workplace by Facebook tried to use cancer to get a sales lead…

Tonight something truly awful happened to me, I received a sales enquiry through LinkedIn that used our cancer story to try and make a connection with me to get a sales lead.

It has driven me to write a post about the dark side of cancer. And how there are so many people out there ready to exploit or use cancer to their own end. It is disgusting, it leaves you feeling violated and it needs to be called out.

The First Time

I can’t remember the exact date but in the early days of our cancer diagnosis another cancer mum messaged me and warned me about an account on instagram.

On the surface the account seemed legit, they were raising awareness about childhood cancer. Their grid was fall of posts about childhood cancer stats and their stories talked about there not being enough research and funding for childhood cancer.

The sad truth is they were seeking out poorly children, using their pictures and then linking to a donation page and pocketing the proceeds. As quickly as the account got shut down there were two, three, four to replace it.

I regularly get follows and unfollows from these type of accounts.

Defrauding Charities

When you get cancer it is overwhelming just how many charities there are out there doing AMAZING things for families with cancer. BUT sadly these charities are often targeted with false claims.

We were nominated last year for a fantastic charity who spread Christmas cheer to children with cancer. Once nominated we had to prove we had cancer, not because the charity was being difficult but because they’ve been burnt with false claims.

Making Sense Of It

I am not condoning the behaviour of others. Using cancer to defraud others is gross. But I can’t help wonder what drives an individual to stoop to that level. I can only conclude it is desperation, it is someones only option. I think this way because thinking of it being more sinister makes me incredibly sad.

Workplace by Facebook

And I do always try and see the good in people. Or at least understand why someone behaves they way they do. But tonight i’m stumped as to why a corporate company could even think about using my story and my blog as an opportunity to make a sales pitch.

workplace by facebook
workplace by facebook

I am left feeling violated and incredibly upset that a sales person at Workplace by Facebook has read my blog and then used the details of my story to try and make a connection with me. They don’t care about my sons journey or why Ibiza is special to us.

They’ve not even asked how my son is? how i’m doing? This person has drawn on an incredibly important and loving relationship I have with two dear friends to see if it will open the door to him pitching his product.

This person has only one thing on their mind – a sales lead!

Facebook Values

I checked out the facebook values to familiarise myself with how Facebook expects its employees to behave, there wasn’t anything particularly useful there. It felt like 5 ways to make excuses for bad behaviour. I guess that is why their employee felt it was OK to send the message they did to me today.

The saddest part is I know people at Workplace by Facebook, so this could have been handled completely differently. I’ve had DM’s back and forth with VP’s and Directors at Workplace by Facebook.

They didn’t need to “cold call me” or drop this in my inbox.

Sense Check

Before even considering writing anything about this I sent the above screen shot to a couple of trusted friends, their response was unanimous, this message was unacceptable:

Some examples of my friends comments:

“How gross – they should be ashamed!”

“This needs to be something organisations are ashamed to do”

“That’s disgusting”

“it has got to be a bot – I can’t bare it potentially being an actual human”

“You’re not overreacting i’m outraged on your behalf”

What now?

I re-read the message over and over. I’ve considered replying. I have considered sending it to a number of senior colleagues at Workplace by Facebook. I even thought about emailing to Mark Zuckerberg himself.

But in the end I decided that this entire episode started with my blog and so I feel it is my right to call this crappy behaviour out here in a post.

I wanted to call it out because in the grand scheme of things it is the tip of the iceberg. When you’re a cancer family you’re thrust into a world where you can and are exploited. And I want to say IT IS NOT OK!

I have blocked out the senders details as I don’t want this to become a witch hunt. I strongly believe that the Workplace by Facebook team needs to address their sales technique and practises.

To post or not to post

This blog from the start of our cancer journey has always been about supporting my mental health, it has been my crutch, writing posts has been cathartic to manage my grief, my anger, the tough times, the happy times and to thank so many people for supporting us.

I’m left hovering over the post button because part of me feels better for tapping out this post and releasing my anger and disappointment in Workplace by Facebook and I am left wondering what kind of hornets nest I could be stirring up.

If you’re reading this I hit the publish button because it feels like the right thing to do. Cancer is not a sales tactic, personal stories are not a bargaining chip to get your foot in the door.

Cancer is the worst thing you can experience as a family, please respect that and think before using it for your own gain.

3 Comments on “How Workplace by Facebook tried to use cancer to get a sales lead…

  1. So disgusting! I’m so sorry someone was low enough to approach you with this!

  2. A well written complaint related to the intention of exploiting one’s family struggles for personal gain and companies profit. It makes me feel sad that the sales person in question has low moral values in relation to attracting new contacts. This person is showing-off rather then showing-up. In this lively example the person’s strategy has luckily failed due to the reaction of Kim and her family. Proud that you’ve found the courage to share this with us Kim.

  3. Good for you Kim. Appalling behavior needs to be called out. Completely unacceptable! Very best wishes to you all.

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