Apple likes to maintain tight control over its image and that extends to any outwardly-facing public social network, especially Facebook.

Sure, the Cupertino firm maintains its own Facebook pages and Twitter channels, basically outlets to spread news about new iTunes content, product updates, support documents, etc. in a tightly controlled manner. But If you thought each Apple employees is his or her own person and entitled to express opinion about the brand, you’re in for a surprise: Tweet/post/blog negatively about Apple and you’ll get fired. Period.

One employee in the UK went on to berate Apple “privately on Facebook”, arguing the posts were not public. has the story of an Apple employee named Crisp who appealed to the UK labor after being fired for “gross misconduct”:

As analyzed on the People Management Web site by attorney Jamie Hamnett of the law firm Addleshaw Goddard LLP, a key element of the tribunal’s decision was that Apple, “made it absolutely plain throughout the induction process that commentary on Apple products, or critical remarks about the brand, were strictly prohibited.” Hammett noted that the tribunal took into account that such comments “would be particularly damaging for Apple as image is so central to its success.” Therefore, “Apple successfully argued that it was justified and proportionate to limit this right (of posting) in order to protect its commercial reputation against potentially damaging posts.”

In Apple’s defense, they do warn potential employees in advance to refrain from commenting on the brand.

For what is worth, I can imagine no company that takes pride in its brand to turn a blind eye to employees scolding them, even in the confines of their personal profile in the walled gardens of Facebook. It’s unprofessional, creates a PR nightmare and sends the wrong message. What are customers supposed to think after reading a hate post by a current employee?


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