Corporate greed in the face of disaster must end, stop capitalizing on grief

I will pull no punches here. It’s plain and simple to explain -- just days after Malaysian Airlines flight 370 went missing, with whereabouts and outcome still unknown, the pack of wolves began to attack. Emails arrived at BetaNews desks advertising corporate solutions to family grief. Are they mad?

Do the families of missing people really worry about the lost password to Facebook or Twitter? This sort of ambulance chasing, as it was long ago named, should have died with the era in which the phrase was coined.

Instead, we get advertisements for solutions to the problem -- bring back the missing loved one and you've solved the problem. Anything short of that and you can save your energy messaging us.

Consider the following email as an example -- I have removed any indication of the company. As much as I would love to call them out on this, the old adage about there being no such thing as bad publicity stops me from doing so -- the company simply does not deserve any reference here, nor will it get one.

"As we all know that the Maylaysia Airlines Flight MH370 has been missing for over 100 hours. It's sad to admit that the passengers are not likely to be back. It would be devastating for their family. Therefore I was wondering what if the passengers have had [product X], a password manager app for iOS, on their phones? Unlike the similiar password apps on the app store, [product X] also offers a tool called [feature X] which can transfer all the safely-kept passwords (financial accounts included) to your beloved ones even after your accidentally death". Note that I left in the typos -- apparently they were so anxious to capitalize on this drama that the message wasn't properly checked.

In the past we have seen politicians use similar campaign tactics -- 9/11 imagery and references spring to mind. However, in this case it seems even worse, mostly because we still do not know for certain what became of flight 370. It has been less than a week (consider the wording of the email -- "100 hours"), and families still cling to a shred of hope. Yet companies, including in this case technology ones, are already beating down the door to take advantage of these unfortunate events in an effort to advertise the benefits of their products.

It is reprehensible that events such as this be used at all, even when they are safely in the past, but doing so this soon deserves a special mention for truly taking home the prize, though not one that should ever be competed for.

Image Credit: Lisa F. Young / Shutterstock

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