The No Man’s Sky debacle: 3 ways to guard against rogue employees

by | Nov 3, 2016 | Crisis Communications, Public Relations, Social Media, Twitter

Video games have come a long way since the days of Bonk’s Adventure and Lode Runner, but sometimes they still manage to disappoint. Unfortunately, No Man’s Sky from developer Hello Games has been one such game.

After a seriously impressive teaser and a tonne of hype, the company released No Man’s Sky this past summer. The reception was…frosty, to say the least, as gamers complained that what they got was far different, and far worse, than what was promised. After months of bad reviews from mad reviewers, at the end of October, Hello Games broke its silence:

@hellogames tweet: No Man's Sky was a mistake

When asked about the tweet, the company told Forbes that it came from “a disgruntled employee”. And comms people across the globe collectively shivered in dread.

It’s come to light that the “disgruntled employee” explanation may not be true — the reality is that nobody yet knows just what is going on at Hello Games — but nevertheless, the terrifying specter of a rogue employee hijacking a company Twitter account is something all communications and marketing groups must guard against.

It’s been said that employees are the backbone of any organization. Your staff are what makes you. But just as they are perfectly situated to be your most ardent brand advocates, their access also puts them in a unique position to do significant damage to your brand if they so choose; just as good staff members can raise your company’s profile, bad or incompetent ones can doom you. Case in point: what happened at HMV on January 31, 2013.

That afternoon, a very recently fired employee named Poppy Rose Cleere (as in, fired that morning, along with scores of others) took hold of the company’s Twitter account and began live-tweeting the “mass execution”.


The director finally regained control of the account and deleted the offending tweets, but, as they say, the damage had already been done: not only had the tweets immediately reached HMV’s 70,000 followers, but they were subsequently retweeted thousands of times to countless people all over the world.

While Ms. Cleere was neither bad nor incompetent — indeed her reasoning for the outgoing outburst might make sense and resonate with you — the fact is that HMV would have undoubtedly preferred it didn’t happen. The regrettable thing is that it didn’t have to.

Here are three ways you and your business can protect yourselves from the wrath of a rogue employee gone rampant on social media.

1. Have a social media policy in place

As Entrepreneur states, “A social media policy takes the guesswork out of what is appropriate for employees to post about your company.” Like any preemptive approach, the aim here is to prevent the damage from ever occurring at all. But keep in mind that these guidelines should do just as much to encourage positive and effective communication as they should to deter the opposite; don’t make it all about restrictions.

2. Safeguard your social media accounts

A social media management system like Hootsuite can do wonders in terms of managing and protecting your corporate social media assets. The idea is to consolidate all your various accounts into one central system, give you back control over passwords and other employee permissions, and ensure that private information is never shared.

3. Give social media the respect it deserves

All too often, responsibility for an organization’s social presence is given to an intern or a junior marketing associate. This may have made sense in the early days, before Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook became viable, legitimate, and necessary corporate marketing tools, but nowadays these channels and their content are too important to be run without the same amount of planning and oversight that goes into other, more traditional communications.


According to a study conducted by Avecto, 41 per cent of IT professionals surveyed cite rogue employees as the No. 1 security threat. This alone highlights the risk. Huge corporations and tiny start-ups alike need to take steps to mitigate or, ideally, avoid altogether, the damage that can be done by a disgruntled employee.

Running your social media channels with no policy in place, with little control, and with the reins in the hands of a junior employee has all the makings of a brand disaster with the potential to do serious and everlasting reputational damage. You need to be out in front of this.

Introducing these seemingly draconian measures might go against your corporate culture, especially in today’s world where fun and freedom are the backbone of the redefined workplace, but a firm grip on the social machine is plain good business.

And boundaries are cool, everyone knows that.

Marcus Kaulback
Marcus is a content creator and marketer with a focus on branding and communications.


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