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4 Jan, 2019 14:23

Huawei punishes staff for tweeting from company account via iPhone

Huawei punishes staff for tweeting from company account via iPhone

Chinese mobile giant Huawei is penalizing two employees with docked pay and demotions after a New Year’s tweet was published on the brand’s official Twitter account marked as sent by iPhone.

The two employees are facing a rough start to the year, being penalized by the company to the tune of 5,000 yuan ($728.27) per month, a pretty high price for a single Tweet.

The senior vice president and director of the board, Chen Lifang, justified the punishment in an internal memo, writing that “the incident caused damage to the Huawei brand,according to Reuters. The memo says that among the two punished is the company’s digital marketing director, who will have his pay grade reduced for an entire year for lack of managerial oversight.

The competition between the two mobile giants ratcheted up dramatically last year as Huawei became the second largest smartphone vendor in the world. The tense trade war between Beijing and Washington has pushed US authorities to step in and try to squeeze the Chinese company out of the country, as well as in other markets abroad. The US government has banned the use of Huawei products in all government entities, and a looming executive order by President Trump threatens to extend the ban to private firms. Following suit, other countries have suddenly also started talking about the dangers of the Chinese company assisting in providing a 5G network. No ties between Huawei and the Chinese government have ever been established, and the company vehemently denies involvement in any acts of espionage.

Ironically, China’s own firewall restrictions against Twitter were likely the cause of the “VPN problems” which resulted in the employee resorting to tweeting from a phone, according to the memo. VPNs (virtual private networks) are used to get around China’s ban on most Western social media sites.

Although the incriminating tweet was quickly corrected, the original version was screenshotted and shared across Chinese and English social media, prompting mockery.

This is not the first time a company representative’s brand choice has resulted in high-profile embarrassment. In October, Samsung went even further when they sued Russian brand ambassador Ksenia Sobchak for using an iPhone on a talk show.

Last year, Hu Xijin, the editor-in-chief of the Global Times, also drew criticism when he made statements supporting Huawei, despite using an iPhone himself. Hu explained his brand choice saying that his supportive comments do not mean that he advocates taking action against foreign brands.

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