Apple is allegedly threatening to fire an employee who posted a TikTok video with basic iPhone security tips. The employee, Paris Campbell, says she was told that she breached company policy by identifying herself as an Apple employee and posting about Apple-related topics.
The company’s social media policy warns employees against posting about customers, colleagues, or confidential information — but Apple doesn’t specifically bar employees from posting about the technology entirely.
“We want you to be yourself, but you should also be respectful in posts, tweets, and other online communications,” an internal document reads.
Campbell, a single mother living in New York, has worked at Apple for nearly six years, most recently as a repair technician in Apple retail. Last week, she responded to another TikTok user who’d lost her iPhone at Coachella, then received threatening text messages saying her personal information would be sold on the black market unless she removed the iPhone from her Apple ID.
“I can’t tell you exactly how I know this information, but I can tell you that for the last six years, I’ve been a certified hardware engineer for a certain company that likes to talk about fruit,” Campbell said in her response video, before warning the user not to listen to the extortionists. “Your phone is actually useless to them, and you’re the only person that can save them, and I suggest that you don’t.”
That video went viral, wracking up 5 million views in roughly 24 hours. On Friday, Campbell received a call from a manager, telling her to remove the video or she’d be subject to disciplinary action “up to and including termination.” When she asked what would happen if she left the video up, she says the manager walked back the original comment and said he would get back to her. So far, he hasn’t.
Over the weekend, Campbell posted a second video titled “dear Apple,” where she revealed that she was an Apple employee and said she was waiting to hear if she was going to be fired. “I’ve never actually identified myself as an Apple employee until this video,” she said. “Funny thing is, though, after reviewing the social media policies... nowhere does it say I can’t identify myself as an Apple employee publicly, just that I shouldn’t do so in a way that makes the company look bad.”
Campbell, who’s been a stand-up comic since 2011, has a significant social media following, including 439,000 followers on TikTok.
The popularity of her posts might not be enough to stop her from getting fired. Last year, Apple terminated two high-profile activists for allegedly sharing confidential information. But Campbell says her videos don’t contain any information that isn’t already publicly available.
“I find Apple’s response to be directly in contrast to how we portray ourselves as a company in terms of telling people to think different, innovate, and come up with creative solutions,” she says in an interview with The Verge. “I don’t just have all this Apple knowledge because I work for Apple. I come to this knowledge because I have a long technical education and history. That’s why they hired me.”
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Verge.