Huawei Demotes Employees For Not Using Its Phones For Tweeting

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With Twitter now having added back the source of how a Tweet was Tweeted, everyone can see where everyone is tweeting from these days, and that includes official brand accounts like Huawei's. Popular tech YouTuber, Marques Brownlee, has been on the hunt as of late, looking for companies that are Tweeting from iPhones, and Huawei was one of them (though, Apple Music also Tweeted from an Android phone, so it's not always an iPhone being used here). That, of course, rubbed Huawei the wrong way, and it has taken action against the employees responsible. Huawei has said, in an internal memo that it has demoted those responsible, dropping them down one level. And it has also docked their pay. Around $730 USD (or 5,000 yuan) was deducted from their monthly salary, according to the memo. And some are getting their pay rank frozen for 12 months. Huawei said in its memo that "the incident exposed flaws in our processes and management", and that it will be looking to address that soon. It also said that its employees will be tightening management of suppliers and partners going forward, as it blamed this incident on outside agencies it hired to run its social media accounts.

The Great Firewall is "to blame"

According to that internal memo, the Great Firewall of China is actually to blame here. The external social media agency that Huawei uses, Sapient, was having problems with its VPN, which is needed to access Twitter from within China. So as a workaround, the company used an iPhone that was fitted with a foreign SIM card to send the tweet. Obviously not the greatest idea, on Sapient's part, but it does make a bit of sense. The firewall in China is pretty strong, and a number of VPN's no longer work, to access sites that are blocked within China's borders. And Twitter is one of thousands of websites that are blocked within China. Though a company that is specifically hired to do social media should be able to find a way around the firewall and even have an office in Hong Kong or a neighboring country to China, that does not have the firewall.

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Many Publications picked up on Huawei's incident, forcing punishment

When the New Year's tweets went out from Huawei's accounts, it got a lot of attention from many publications, including some Apple-focused publications. And that was enough to get Huawei's attention and do something about the matter. That was likely not the first time that Huawei's social media team has used an iPhone to send Tweets on its official account, but it is likely going to be the last time. Especially after seeing how steep these punishments are for those that did use an iPhone to tweet on its official account. Which included its head of its digital marketing team, as well as some on its government relations team and in the consumer business unit.

Huawei isn't alone in tweeting from a competitor's device

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Many companies have been caught tweeting from a competitors device, including Samsung Nigeria, just last year. The Samsung Nigeria account was forced to remove over 300 tweets from its account, that were tweeted from an iPhone. This was more than a one-time thing – which it was for Huawei, it sounds like. As it appears that whoever was in charge of the Samsung Nigeria account had been doing all of the tweeting from an iPhone. Which is a bigger deal for Samsung, seeing as Samsung's main competitor is Apple. Meanwhile Huawei's main competitor is other Android manufacturers.

That wasn't even Samsung's biggest issue as of late, with tweeting from an iPhone. Samsung's brand ambassador in Russia, Ksenia Sobchak  (who is also Russian President, Vladimir Putin's niece) was caught using an iPhone on live TV. As a brand ambassador, you are supposed to be using the product that you are promoting, and that line was even in her contract with Samsung. So the South Korean company has decided to sue her over the issue, for $1.6 million, and will likely void the contract as well.

Several celebrities who have been hired by companies to endorse new phones have also been caught tweeting from an iPhone. This includes another instance for Huawei with Wonder Woman herself, Gal Galdot. She was seen promoting the Huawei Mate 10 Pro on Twitter shortly after the device was announced, the only thing was the tweet came from the "Twitter for iPhone" app. However, this did not stop Huawei from working with Galdot on future product releases, like the P20 the following year. The list can truly go on and on about the number of celebrities caught promoting an Android smartphone and using an iPhone to send the tweet.

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Why does all of this matter? 

Well it's the optics of it all. Think about it. If you are working for a smartphone company, yet you are not using their phone for promoting their devices, or tweeting on their official accounts, it looks pretty bad. In fact, even if you aren't tweeting on their behalf and are not using their phone, it still looks quite bad. It looks especially bad for a brand ambassador, as they are hired only to promote the device for the company, and being seen using another phone, makes their promotion a bit useless.

This is likely not the end of brands or ambassadors using a competing device to write tweets and use when not promoting a device for the company it works for. This is likely going to continue to happen. And now that Twitter has brought back the source information onto its mobile apps (not the website, unfortunately), that is likely only going to make it easier for others to find out whether it was tweeted from an Android smartphone or an iPhone. Though it would be surprising to see this happen over at Huawei again, given the pretty steep punishment that it is handing out right now, especially for those in China. Considering a 5,000 yuan decrease in pay per month is pretty significant – seeing as none of these were executives.

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