What Google, Microsoft and other big tech giants apologised for in 2020

The year 2020 was one unusual year. The untimely Covid-19 outbreak caused a lot of pain to millions of people as they lost their loved ones, while others are still facing the uncertainty of job security. Not just lesser mortals like us, even big tech giants such as Microsoft, Google, and others too faced forgettable moments and apologised for their mistakes.


    A silly reply by ignorant Amazon Customer support executive stirred up a storm in Europe.

    A Northern Ireland resident complained to Amazon on Twitter that despite he being Prime customer is not able to view the Rugby Autumn Nations Cup.

    "We apologize but upon reviewing your location you're in Northern Ireland. Rugby Autumn Nations Cup coverage is exclusively available to Prime members based in the UK. We don't have the rights to other territories," Amazon support executive said.

    This snowballed into a major controversy has as the United Kingdom and Ireland have bitter memories as the latter for long has been seeking independence from the English.

    In the 1973 referendum, Northern Ireland citizens chose to remain with the UK and not join with the Republic of Ireland to become United Ireland.

    Later, Amazon realised the mistake after the short message exchange went viral on Twitter. It later apologised for the comment and resumed the Rugby match live streaming to the customer.

    "We apologise for the error in our colleague’s response. Our Prime Video subscribers in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK can access and watch the Rugby Autumn Nations Cup on Prime Video as part of their subscription," Amazon Help tweeted.



    Among all the big technology companies, Apple, Like the co-founder Steve Jobs has always been defensive in nature. Case in point-- The iPhone 4, which was reported to have some signal connectivity issues, the company had said users holding the iPhone wrong.

    In 2020, Apple made a rare apology to WordPress developers. The former had asked the app creators to implement an in-app purchase option on WordPress for iOS, which by the way has always been a free app since its debut on Apple App Store.

    Taking note of the issue, Apple apologised to WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg and retracted the in-app purchase option notice.

    "We believe the issue with the WordPress app has been resolved. Since the developer removed the display of their service payment options from the app, it is now a free stand-alone app and does not have to offer in-app purchases. We have informed the developer and apologize for any confusion that we have caused," Apple said in a statement.



    International Business Machine (IBM) was one of the biggest technology companies in the second half of the 20th century and even today, it commands a great brand value. But, 52 years ago, the company had made a hasty judgement of firing a computer engineer.

    In 1968, Lynn Conway, a promising young engineer part of the IBM's chipset design team confided to supervisors that she was transgender. The company just fired her without any due process or review.

    Now, the company has formally apologised for the unceremonious termination of Conway, who is now 82.

    Also, Conway was accorded with a lifetime achievement award for her 'pioneering work' in computers, by IBM.



    After Google fired AI ethics researcher Timnit Gebru, the Mountain View-based company received a lot of flak from within the company and outside.

    Read more | Google faces backlash from employees over Black AI researcher Gebru's dismissal

    Later CEO Sundar Pichai released a statement apologising for the unceremonious exit of the distinguished Gebru.

    "One of the things I’ve been most proud of this year is how Googlers from across the company came together to address our racial equity commitments. It’s hard, important work, and while we’re steadfast in our commitment to do better, we have a lot to learn and improve. An important piece of this is learning from our experiences like the departure of Dr. Timnit Gebru," Pichai said

    "I’ve heard the reaction to Dr. Gebru’s departure loud and clear: it seeded doubts and led some in our community to question their place at Google. I want to say how sorry I am for that, and I accept the responsibility of working to restore your trust," Pichai added.



    Early this year when the pandemic was its peak around the world and work from home became a new normal, Microsoft released a software tool -

    'Productivity Score' on Microsoft 365. Though it was intended to help admins of the team to improve the efficiency of the work. It invited wide-scale backlash over surveillance on employees, which also further increase the stress on the latter with uncertain job security.

    "We recognize that the shift to remote work this year has brought new challenges and stresses to employees across the world, and there’s a clear need to help people learn how to use technology to navigate the new normal. Productivity Score gives IT administrators the insights they need to help their people get the most from Microsoft 365", said Jared Spataro, Corporate Vice President for Microsoft 365.

    "At Microsoft, we believe that data-driven insights are crucial to empowering people and organizations to achieve more. We also believe that privacy is a human right, and we’re deeply committed to the privacy of every person who uses our products. As part of that commitment, we’re making the following changes to Productivity Score," Spataro added.

    Productivity score feature, which revealed the names of individuals was removed last month.



    Mark Zuckerberg-owned company apologised to users for blocking Do-It-Yourself (DIY) videos that showed how to make home-made face masks so that users can wear them when venturing out.

    "We apologise for this error and are working to update our systems to avoid mistakes like this going forward. We don't want to put obstacles in the way of people doing a good thing," Facebook said in a statement to the media.