Author Mark Richards

Donald Trump’s Twitter account was recently deleted for 11 minutes, thanks to the action of a Twitter employee on his last day at work. What else have angry employees done to ‘get even?’ And is workplace revenge always a good idea…

Last week Donald Trump’s Twitter account was taken down for 11 minutes. The action was blamed on an employee at Twitter: a ‘customer service employee’ who was on his last day with the company and had decided to give some unusual – but probably very satisfying – ‘customer service.’

My Twitter account was taken down by a rogue employee, tweeted the President as soon as he was back in the land of the living.

Where does the Donald stand in the Twitter league table?

Perhaps not that much of an impact. realDonaldTrump – no it does not begin with a capital R which must have his 7th grade English teacher spinning in her grave – has 41.9m followers. His fascinating tweets – I’ve just given a speech to the great men and women of the American military – do not see him anywhere near the top of the Twitter league table. Despite the attractive orange tan and irresistible combover in Premier League terms the 45th President is Huddersfield Town.

Barak Obama

Sadly for Mr Trump’s ego, he is way behind previous POTUS Barack Obama who has 96.6m people hanging on his every tweet. But even Obama is not at the top of the list: both Justin Bieber (103m) and Katy Perry (106m followers) are well ahead of him.

In comparison politicians in this country are a pathetic bunch: Jeremy Corbyn has 1.58m followers and Theresa Underscore May just 408,000. She was out in Maidstone at the weekend, Supporting our armed forces. They do an exceptional job. You may spot a theme…

The President’s future earning power

There is an interesting aside here. It used to be the case that retired Presidents would immediately start pounding the after-dinner circuit. Why bother? Captiv8, a company that connects brands to influencers says that on average, someone with 3m to 7m followers can charge $187,500 for a post on YouTube, $75,000 on Instagram and $30,000 for a tweet. An astute businessman like the President will have noticed that 40m followers are a lot more than 7m: why bother turning up and giving a speech? Clearly, the future for ex-world leaders is simply to sit around in their PJs tweeting toothpaste endorsements. Well, unless you are Theresa May…

The customer service employee

But it is not the President’s Twitter account or his future earnings that we are interested in. No, much more interesting is the scamp that turned the account off. An employee on his last day at Twitter who decided to do what he had clearly always wanted to do. The account was down for 11 minutes. Sorry, said Twitter to the President’s grief-stricken fans, that page doesn’t exist.

Meanwhile, our hero was presumably loading his plant and picture of his dog into a cardboard box and being escorted from the building – but walking into the pantheon of disgruntled employees who have done spectacular things on their last day at work.

There is in America – land of the free and home of the hungry – a fast food chain called Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers. You won’t be surprised to hear that one of the keys to their success is a secret sauce. ‘Closely guarded, known to only a handful of family members who never travel together, handed down over the generations…’ You get the picture. Except that one of Raising Cane’s secret sauces ain’t secret no more. Having fired a female employee she immediately took to Twitter: Canes fired me they lil sauce ain’t nothing but mayo, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce black pepper & garlic powder.

The tweets went viral and she was asked to prove her claims. She responded with the exact quantity of the ingredients and the company went into damage limitation mode.

But sometimes it backfires…

Sadly, taking your revenge can seriously backfire on you. Triano Williams was a former IT worker for the American College of Education who was fired in 2016 for refusing to relocate to Indianapolis. Williams demanded $200,000 for racial discrimination and in a fit of workplace revenge also refused to give back the College’s Google password. The College tried to reset the password but Google referred them back to Triano, who was no doubt busy wondering what he would spend his money on. The cloud-based account held the details of 2,000 students so inevitably it all ended up in court. Instead of getting his money the judge found against Triano Williams and ordered him to pay $248,350 – around £190,000.

There seem to be as many examples of workplace revenge as there are ex-employees. A disgruntled former employee of the Wiener-Linien transport company in Austria stole one of the company’s trams and took it for a joy-ride. Unpaid construction workers in Australia used chainsaws to destroy a house they had just built: the boss “will learn the hard way” one of the – now unemployed – workers said.

workplace revenge

Workplace Revenge via social media

Social media now gives everyone an easy opportunity for revenge – as do the plethora of online dating sites. Darren – surprisingly he prefers his last name to be kept secret – struck back at a boss who had bullied him by signing the boss up for a dating site, complete with unflattering photo and raunchy profile. The link was duly passed around the office and there were several nods and winks when the boss complained that his inbox had suddenly exploded with unsavoury invitations. “It felt good to get my own back,” said Darren, who had just graduated at the time and was working in a call centre.

Today though, Darren takes a different view. “It no longer feels right,” he said. “Looking back, it was all a bit childish. And the boss’s behaviour didn’t change.” And that, according to the European Journal of Psychology, is the key point. For workplace revenge to be truly satisfying, someone has to change their behaviour.

That will rarely happen. But with workplace bullying and sexual harassment in the office becoming more widely acknowledged and recognised, we can expect workplace revenge to remain a temptation for thousands of unhappy employees. A temptation – but one that probably should be resisted. ‘Refused to give the password back’ and ‘Outed boss on a dating site’ are not the key skills future employers are looking for on LinkedIn…