Facepalm: Did you send out ‘Happy New Year’ messages on social media? It’s something a lot of people did, including Huawei through its official Twitter account. What the company didn’t expect, however, was for it to be marked with (sent) “via Twitter for iPhone.” The Chinese giant was so enraged by the blunder that it’s demoted the two employees responsible.
“Happy #2019,” read Huawei’s New Year’s Eve message, which was sent from a device made by its US rival. The post was quickly deleted, but screenshots were already circulating across the internet and proved particularly popular on Chinese site Weibo.
According to an internal memo seen by Reuters, Huawei’s corporate senior vice-president and director of the board, Chen Lifang, said, “the incident caused damage to the Huawei brand.”
The mistake is said to have occurred due to Huawei’s outsourced social media handler, Sapient, experiencing “VPN problems” on the desktop PC it uses to send out tweets. The issues meant it had to use an iPhone with a roaming SIM card to post the New Year message.
Like many Western services, including Facebook, Twitter is banned in China, forcing people to use VPNs if they want to access the site.
For their mistake, Huawei said in the memo that it had demoted the two employees responsible by one rank and reduced their monthly salaries by 5,000 yuan ($728.27). The pay rank of one of the employees—Huawei's digital marketing director—will also be frozen for 12 months
Sending out a tweet from a competitor’s device is never good, but this faux pas comes at an especially bad time in Chinese-American relations. In addition to the trade war, the US has long accused Huawei of spying on behalf of China, and things reached a head last month when its CFO, Meng Wanzhou, was arrested in Canada at the request of the US government. It’s led to many Chinese companies supporting Huawei by subsidizing employees who purchase devices from the company instead of iPhones.