Photo: Gizmodo

Chinese technology company Huawei sent out a tweet over the New Year’s holiday wishing everyone a happy 2019. But many social media users noticed that the tweet had been sent from an iPhone. Why does that matter? The iPhone is made by Huawei’s American competitor Apple, and now there are reports that the employees who were responsible for the Huawei tweet have been punished.

Huawei distributed an internal company memo on January 3 that claimed the incident had, “caused damage to the Huawei brand,” according to Reuters. Apparently the social media team, managed by the gigantic international PR firm Sapient, experienced what was described as “VPN problems” on their desktop computers and had to use a mobile phone to tweet. Twitter is blocked in China, so even huge Chinese companies like Huawei have to use VPNs that route traffic through open countries in order to operate on Twitter.

Advertisement

The memo reportedly explains that the employees responsible had been demoted and that their monthly salaries had been docked roughly $720. It was not immediately clear how much money the employees had been making before they were demoted.

The Twitter platform can tell whether a tweet has been sent from the Twitter website versus the mobile app, as well as what kind of device you’re using. Previously, apps like Tweetdeck were the only places where the method of the tweet was displayed prominently, but the latest mobile Twitter app update on iPhone has made the “sent from” notification more prominent, as you can see in the screenshot below.

Advertisement

Screenshot of the tweet sent out by Huawei’s social media team over New Year’s Eve
Screenshot: Twitter

Huawei’s latest mini-scandal comes on the heels of several larger scandals in the tech world that are being driven by the New Cold War between Russia, China and North Korea on one side and the U.S., U.K., and several other western countries on the other.

Advertisement

Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada at the request of the U.S. government on December 1, 2018 regarding charges that she violated sanctions against Iran. The Chinese government has retaliated by arresting at least thirteen Canadians (eight have been released), and the U.S. State Department issued a warning yesterday against travel to China over fears that Americans might be arrested for no real reason in order to retaliate over the arrest of Meng.

“Exercise increased caution in China due to arbitrary enforcement of local laws as well as special restrictions on dual U.S.-Chinese nationals,” the State Department warning said. “Chinese authorities have asserted broad authority to prohibit U.S. citizens from leaving China by using ‘exit bans,’ sometimes keeping U.S. citizens in China for years.”

Advertisement

Businesses in China have even offered discounts to people using Huawei phones, and carrying Chinese-made products has become a point of pride to some patriotic people.

There’s clearly no end in sight for the New Cold War, and President Donald Trump’s trade war with China isn’t helping things either. Apple’s sluggish sales of the iPhone in China sent the stock market plummeting yesterday.

Advertisement

But there is reason to be cautiously optimistic. The Dow is expected to open higher this morning after China’s commerce ministry announced that there would be trade talks between the U.S. and China in Beijing on January 7.

Yes, we’ve been down this road before, but maybe they can hammer something out before things get any worse and tip the world into a truly bad economic situation.

Advertisement

Maybe. Maybe. A guy can dream, can’t he?

[Reuters via Mac Rumors]

Advertisement