Vodafone grovels after obscene tweet

by on 19/02/2010

Vodafone has suspended an employee and issued thousands of apologies after an obscene message was broadcast on its Twitter account.

The message (“VodafoneUK is fed up of dirty homo’s and is going after beaver”) was tweeted on Vodafone’s official account which is usually used to deal with customer complaints. According to Vodafone “we weren’t hacked. A severe breach of rules by staff in our building, dealing with that internally. We’re very sorry”.

This is the latest in a string of examples of rogue employees using social media tools in an inappropriate way – last year, Virgin Atlantic fired 13 cabin crew after they called passengers “chavs” on Facebook and said that Virgin’s airplanes were full of cockroaches.

Every company needs to consider this issue and decide an appropriate social media policy that allows employees to use these tools for the undoubted business benefit that they bring while ensuring that the chances of PR gaffs and worse are minimised. One level of this should be enshrined in the company’s Internet use policy, backed up by education, including the repercussions of non-compliance. Technological solutions also exist which can help to monitor the use of social media sites or bar them for specific employees if necessary.

There are two inappropriate reactions. Blocking social media sites altogether misses out on the benefits and alienates employees. Anyway, employees can just as easily tweet from their smartphones or go home and tweet about the company from there instead.  Sticking your head in the sand and hoping that everything will be ok is also a dangerous path. If you don’t know how to go about defining a social media policy or what technology exists to help, then get in touch with experts in the field.  Social media is here to stay, like it or not, and now is the time to get your house in order before you suffer in the same way as Vodafone.


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Howard Mayes February 19, 2010 at 9:35 pm

The postion a company takes on its social media policy is one that needs careful consideration. Personally I think a positive policy is the way forward. The key to a successful strategy is professional assistance to devise and develop your thinking.


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