Another Great Question! — Innocent Mistake (By Merck US)? I Think Not.

Another great question, as to whether Merck & Co. (US) might have simply made an innocent mistake, here — from a new anonymous commenter, below — let’s take a look:

. . . .Anonymous said…
Isn’t is possible that this really was just a mistake?

(a different anonymous)

November 30, 2011 12:39 AM

[I] said. . .

Thanks, Anon. No. 2 —

Clearly, as Facebook itself has admitted, Facebook made a mistake. On that, I think we might all agree.

But I am interested in how Facebook came to make that mistake — how was it induced to do so?

Let us then make out the case most favorable to "mistake" — on the part of Merck & Co. (US). Is it possible that no one at Merck US bothered to check whether the Facebook vanity page URL "" was available, before (entirely innocently!) asking Facebook to open a page in Merck & Co. US's name? I guess that could have happened. . . .

But wouldn't it seem more likely that Facebook told Merck US that the page "already existed" — Facebok, of course, assuming naively, and incorrectly, that Merck KGaA (Germany) was just an international affiliate of US Merck?

[Most people who hadn't recently read the 1919 Treaty of Versailles might have made the same assumption — in fact no less an authority than the Wall Street Journal still occasionally does — HAH! But we must assume that at US Merck's Corporate Communications Department, at least, it knows who it is — and is NOT, right?]

In any event, wouldn't it also then seem likely that Merck US would simply say Oops! — "we lost our passwords" — or some such, and induce Facebook to reset the page, effectively "handing over the keys" to that address, to US Merck?

In sum, what I find hard to believe about this scenario (from US Merck's perspective) is that US Merck didn't even know that German Merck had the Vanity Facebook page address.

If Merck US did know about the German Merck vanity page, it becomes nearly impossible to imagine any set of statements that would be completely truthful — and free from material omissions — that would still result in Facebook handing over the keys to US Merck.

Certainly, Facebook (just as in the Salman Rushdie name case — see link below) would require some evidence that Merck US and German Merck were essentially the same person before resetting the passwords, right?

I mean, think about it — at almost same time, Facebook was very publicly handling the flap over Rushdie's own "pen" name. [In that case, Facebook required the submission of Rushdie's passport, among other things, before returning to him HIS OWN "PEN" NAME(!).]

Something similar must have been requested of Merck US. And short of a misstatement, the change wouldn't have occurred, in my estimation. That misstatement almost certainly came from Whitehouse Station (i.e., Merck US), in my estimation.

So — yes, Facebook could very well have made a fairly innocent mistake (and has admitted as much).

If you can, though — do lay out a plausible competing scenario — one in which the second largest purveyor of drugs in the world is unaware of the German Merck's existence on Facebook, and is unaware of 92 years of its own confused history with that unaffiliated World War I reparations-seized-entity.

Remember, prior to the Summer of 2011, US Merck already had a page on Facebook — just not a vanity URL address page. So too, did German Merck, but it ALSO had the vanity address page — since 2010.

If you can convincingly spin me that tale, I'm all ears (and eyes)!

Thanks — what a great question!


November 30, 2011 9:20 AM. . . .

I think this one is about done — for now. Now we wait to see when the German Merck reappears as owner of the vanity URL at Facebook. As of this morning, no one owns it.


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