Chinese phone giant Huawei punished two employees for tweeting a New Year’s Day greeting from the company’s official Twitter account using an iPhone.
In an internal memo seen by Reuters, Huawei corporate senior vice president said “the incident caused damage to the Huawei brand.” As a result, two of the Chinese smartphone manufacturer’s employees were demoted one rank and received a monthly cut in pay of 5,000 yuan (approximately $728). One of the employees, Huawei’s digital marketing director, will also see their pay rank frozen for 12 months.
The tweet from iPhone incident occurred when the Huawei’s outsourced social media agency, Sapient, experienced virtual private network (VPN) problems with its desktop computer, according to the memo.
Twitter is blocked in China, making a VPN necessary to access the platform in the country. In order to send the New Year’s message at midnight, an iPhone with a roaming SIM card was used to send the tweet. The memo says that “the incident exposed flaws in our processes and management.”
Twitter had previously removed the source of a tweet from its website and mobile phone app, although some third-party applications still displayed the info. Just last month, however, the microblogging service brought tweet source data back across the platform. Huawei’s tweet publicly displayed “Twitter from iPhone” below the message thanks to this recent Twitter change.
The “Twitter from iPhone” labelling was roundly mocked on social media. Huawei deleted its original New Year’s message and reposted it, this time with the source displaying “Twitter Media Studio.” The replies to the reposted tweet filled with users posting their screenshots of the “Twitter from iPhone” version.
From Huawei’s standpoint, the incident is surely embarrassing. Apple’s iPhone is a major competitor to Huawei’s line of smartphones. However, the response seems over the top, especially when you consider that it was devised as a workaround to deal with an unforeseen technical issue involving a outsourced company.