Two Huawei Employees Punished For New Year iPhone Tweet

By Holly Brockwell on at

Remember the 'happy 2019' tweet from Huawei that turned out to be sent from an iPhone?

Well, as predicted, the employees responsible have had a very bad start to the work year.

The Chinese tech giant has identified two people responsible for the tweet and demoted them both.

While demoting two staff members for a small – though embarrassing – error is a massive overreaction, we're honestly slightly relieved that a demotion (and a major dressing-down, we imagine) is all they got.

Chinese companies are famously incredibly harsh on their employees for things like this, and the Huawei-Apple war is a particularly sensitive one. Several Chinese tech companies are reported to full-on fire their employees if they're caught using an iPhone, or take the phone and fine them the cost of it (a pretty big deal when you're on factory wages).

In this case, the two employees have apparently been bumped down to lower-level jobs (though we don't know what they are – hopefully not toilet cleaning) and had their salaries cut. One of them has also been put on a year-long salary freeze.

The info came from an internal memo sent by Huawei Senior VP Chen Lifang on Thursday. He said the action had been taken because the screw-up had "caused damage to the Huawei brand," which is hard to argue with.

However, the circumstances are pretty excusable, as it turns out: you can't tweet in China because it's banned, so you have to use a VPN. The employees' VPN of choice was causing problems on the day the tweet was supposed to go out, and they were worried they'd miss the midnight deadline, so they used an iPhone with a roaming SIM to send the tweet. Clearly, they were trying to save their jobs, which makes this whole episode sadder.

It's another case of a new feature (in this case, bringing back tweet origins) being used in ways no one anticipated, and causing serious problems for people using the platform. We hope the two luckless employees find new jobs somewhere a bit more forgiving.