Sheryl Sandberg’s PR Team Doesn’t Handle Criticism Well

Today in Classic PR Infighting news: we’ve all heard of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg‘s book Lean In, which is all about how women need to assert themselves more aggressively in the workplace.

Of course Sandberg’s been making the media rounds to promote the book. This week Kate Losse, an early Facebook employee who once wrote speeches for Mark Zuckerberg and published a memoir about her experience there, posted a critical review of the book in Dissent magazine.

Here’s how current Sandberg rep and former Facebook PR chief/Losse coworker Brandee Barker responded:

Alright then!

Losse’s point seems to be that, while Sandberg is an excellent businesswoman and role model for others, her “Lean In movement” is more about women adjusting to the man-made reality of today’s business world than changing the status quo. As Losse wrote in a follow-up tweet, Sandberg’s message is “a way for corps to align with feminism w/o changing their operations.”

We understand why Barker, who just formed a firm called The Pramana Collective with other tech vets and clearly believes in Sandberg, didn’t appreciate Losse’s critique. But we do wonder why she chose to register her dissent in such a personal way. We guess it’s a good reminder that nothing on social media is really private.

Was Barker wrong to respond? Was Losse wrong to publicize said response? We don’t know, and this all seems like a lot of unnecessary negativity to us. For the record: we just hope Barker didn’t mean to quote Taylor Swift with that “special place in hell” phrase.