The owner of a converted warehouse in Oakland, California, where a massive fire erupted on Friday, killing at least 36 people is now facing public outrage after his response to the tragedy on social media.
On Saturday morning, the day after the fire, warehouse operator Derick Ion Almena posted the following on his Facebook page:
Almena’s post was met with immediate criticism from Facebook users noting that he said nothing about the fire victims.
“You are a very sick man. This is not about what you lost,” commented one user.
“All you worked on? What about those who have died?” noted another.
Almena later apologized for his comment in a written statement to NBC News, saying that he had no idea at the time that people had died in the fire. However, by then, the damage to his public image was already done.
Everyone – from a CEO to the most junior staff members – should be hypersensitive to any verbal or written statements they make, especially in a time of crisis when they are under the highest levels of scrutiny.
This story serves as a stark example of when an already terrible tragedy gets further compounded by an insensitive statement. Although, Almena was far from a well-known public figure, his post made him the topic of mainstream reporting by national news outlets, which has also been shared by thousands of people on social media.
Indeed, as social media and crisis managers often say, “think twice before you speak, and three times before you post it on Facebook.”