HMV: Tweet Staff Dismissals


Workers at the entertainment store “tweeted” their own sacking last week on Twitter.

HMV later deleted the posts from the @hmvtweets account, which was used to broadcast news of a “mass execution of loyal employees” to 61,500 followers.

PR crisis I hear you ask? Well yes.

HMV later addressed the tweets on Twitter:

“One of our departing colleagues was understandably upset. We’re still here thou, thx for supporting hmv thro these challenging times”

Deloitte, appointed to run HMV following the firm’s collapse into administration, confirmed that about 190 jobs had been cut across the company’s head office and distribution network.

This is an interesting case and should be used as a warning to any businesses that hand total control of their social media channels to staff.

Among the social media best practices recommended by X1 Discovery (who monitor online and legal databases) that companies should seek to adopt are:

  • Have a dedicated and well-communicated policy on social media use that clearly sets out acceptable and unacceptable usage, both inside and outside the workplace as well as after employment comes to an end. The policy should be implemented in accordance with and comply with local requirements, especially privacy laws.
  • If employers choose to monitor social media usage by employees at work (as the survey indicates) have clear, express and well-communicated policies about the extent and nature of the monitoring. Ensure they comply with and are implemented in accordance with local requirements (again, especially privacy laws).
  • Any monitoring should go no further than is necessary to protect the employer’s business interests and should be conducted only by designated employees who have been adequately trained to understand the limits on what monitoring is permissible and comply with local privacy requirements, including in respect of the safe storage, confidentiality of and onward transfer of personal data.
  • Exercise extreme caution before relying upon information on social media sites to make employment-related decisions, such as decisions about recruitment and discipline. In addition to the danger of such information being inaccurate, relying upon such information creates the risk of unlawful discrimination, breaching data privacy requirements and infringing individuals’ rights to privacy.
  • Based on recent cases from around the world, an emerging issue is misuse of confidential information by employees via social media. As well as addressing this issue through social media policies, it would be best practice to amend provisions dealing with misuse of confidential information to explicitly cover misuse via social media.

In the case of HMV, they acknowledged the tweet and responded, managing the crisis.  While the case has been published across online and offline media, HMV have followed PR best practice guidelines, limiting the damage as best they could.


Love Niamh x

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