China’s Huawei Technologies has reprimanded two employees for an embarrassing, New Year’s Eve tweet on the smartphone maker’s official Twitter account using an iPhone, social media sleuths noticed on Dec. 31. Huawei, whose smartphones compete with Apple’s iPhone and which has become the focal point of an ongoing feud between the US and China over "technology transfer", on New Year’s Eve posted a message to followers saying “Happy #2019" in a tweet marked sent “via Twitter for iPhone.”
MKBHD first detected Huawei's New Year's Eve mistake.
That was fast pic.twitter.com/y6k0FJF7Gq— Marques Brownlee (@MKBHD) January 1, 2019
The tweet was immediately removed but screenshots of the mistake circulated across social media platforms.
Typically, this would be comical, but yet - not newsworthy. Though here, the recent arrest of a Huawei executive has been a dangerous escalation of President Trump's economic war with China
"Late last year, Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou was arrested and detained in a Canadian jail for breaching US sanctions on Iran. This sparked even greater heat between the two tech giants, with companies in China going so far to boycott Apple. Firms have even threatened employees with termination for iPhone use, with most offering subnational discounts on Huawei phones to encourage employees to pick up Huawei devices," said 9to5Mac.
In an internal Huawei memo dated Jan. 03 seen by Reuters, corporate senior vice-president and director of the board Chen Lifang said, “the incident caused damage to the Huawei brand.”
The memo said the mistake occurred when outsourced social media marketing firm Sapient experienced “VPN problems” with a computer so used an iPhone with a roaming SIM card to send the tweet. Twitter, like many social media platforms, is blocked in China, where the internet is heavily censored. For Sapient to gain access, the social media managers had to use a virtual private network (VPN) connection.
Huawei, which surpassed Apple as the world’s second-largest smartphone manufacturer, declined to comment on the situation when Reuters reached out.
The memo also said the error exposed procedural non-compliance and management oversight issues. It said two employees have been punished and demoted by one rank and their monthly salaries reduced by 5,000 yuan ($728.27). The pay grade of one of its employees, Huawei’s digital marketing director, will stay frozen for at least one year.
Reuters said this is not the first time an Apple smartphone has given cause for embarrassment.
Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of China's state-run Global Times, was criticized on social media last year after he used his iPhone when showing support for Huawei and ZTE Corp.