Huawei punishes employees after New Year’s Day tweet sent from iPhone
China’s Huawei Technologies has punished two employees for New Year greetings sent on the smartphone maker’s official Twitter account using an iPhone, an internal memo showed.
- Huawei has punished two employees, including its digital marketing director
- The employees used an iPhone with a roaming SIM to get past China’s firewall
- Huawei has previously overtaken Apple as the world’s largest smartphone seller
On New Year’s Day Huawei, whose P-series handsets compete with Apple’s iPhone, wished followers a “Happy #2019” in a tweet marked sent “via Twitter for iPhone”.
The tweet was quickly removed but screenshots of the blunder spread across social media.
“The traitor has revealed himself,” quipped one user on Weibo, in a comment liked over 600 times.
In an internal Huawei memo dated January 3, corporate senior vice-president and director of the board Chen Lifang said, “the incident caused damage to the Huawei brand”.
Huawei found that the employees couldn’t use a VPN on work desktop computers in Beijing. (Twitter: Sora )
China’s firewall to blame
The mistake occurred when outsourced social media handler Sapient experienced “VPN problems” with a desktop computer so used an iPhone with a roaming SIM card in order to send the message on time at midnight, Huawei said in the memo.
Twitter, like several foreign services such as those from Facebook Inc and Alphabet Inc, is blocked in China, where the Internet is heavily censored.
To gain access, users need a virtual private network (VPN) connection.
Huawei, which overtook Apple as the world’s second-largest smartphone vendor by volume in January-September, declined to comment on internal issues when contacted.
Sapient did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent via the contact form on its website.
Calls to its Beijing office went unanswered.
Huawei said in the memo the blunder showed procedural incompliance and management oversight.
It said it had demoted two employees responsible by one rank and reduced their monthly salaries by 5,000 yuan ($1,037.40).
The pay rank of one of the employees — Huawei’s digital marketing director — will also be frozen for 12 months, it said.
It is not the first time use of the Apple product has given cause for embarrassment.
Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of nationalistic tabloid Global Times, was mocked online last year after he used his iPhone when expressing support for Huawei and domestic peer ZTE Corp.
He later said his actions were not hypocritical as foreign brands should not be discriminated against.