Thursday, May 17, 2012

Corporate Death By Twitter

Looks like the Death By Twitter curse has crossed over from Hollywood celebrities to corporate America.  The Wall Street Journal reported this week that the CFO of fashion retailer Francesca’s Holding Corp., Gene Morphis, was fired for his social media musings.
It is not clear if there is a certain company policy that Mr. Morphis violated with his tweets.  What is clear, however, is that the company was unhappy enough to fire him as he “improperly communicated company information through social media.”
The culprits?  Tweets from his account @theoldcfo (which is still live, by the way) including:
-          Earnings released.  Conference call completed.  How do you like me now Mr. Shortie?
-          Board meeting.  Good numbers=Happy Board.
-          Roadshow completed.  Sold $275 million of secondary shares.  Earned my pay this week.
-          Dinner w/ Board tonite.  Used to be fun.  Now one must be on guard every second.
The scariest thing about this Death By Twitter is that none of the tweets are THAT bad.  True, some give financial numbers, reference the board, and don’t ask me who “Mr. Shortie” is; but nothing is horrendous.  Twitter firings we’ve seen in the past have typically been overtly offensive.  Remember Gilbert Gottfried being fired as the Aflac voice due to tweets joking about the tragic tsunami in Japan?  Or, perhaps you recall CNN’s senior editor Octavia Nasr being canned after tweeting her respect for the deceased Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah, who the AP called “staunchly anti-American and linked to bombings that killed more than 260 Americans”.
What we learn from Morphis’s tweets is that it doesn’t take malicious intent or blatantly provocative commentary to constitute corporate Death by Twitter.  Sometimes, it happens by slow, insidious over-sharing. 

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