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AirAsia’s Tony Fernandes shuts Twitter account due to ‘negativity and anger’

Tony Fernandes, AirAsia’s group CEO, has shut his Twitter account after commenting that social media has become “an angry place”. Before deleting his account, Fernandes tweeted that having shut down his Facebook account last March, it was time to do the same for Twitter, The Star reported.

While he has been a fan of the platform, Fernandes (pictured) said there is “too much negativity and falsehood and anger”.  Nonetheless, he said it has been an amazing ride, The Star reported. At the time of writing, Fernandes’ Twitter account had already been deactivated. A+M has reached out to Twitter for comment.

This is not the first time Fernandes has contemplated closing his Twitter page. Last March, when Fernandes deleted his Facebook account due to the “hate” being disseminated on social media following the live-streaming of the terror attack on two mosques in New Zealand, he also pondered the same about Twitter. Moreover, he had previously mentioned that “the amount of hate that goes on in social media sometimes outweights the good”.

Fernandes is an active social media user and frequently uses the platforms to share his thoughts and company updates. Among the list of updates he has shared include him stepping down from all board positions except for AirAsia Group and AirAsia X, the opening of the airline’s first Santan restaurant in Mid Valley Megamall, and him denying claims that he was resigning to enter the financial technology sector. Besides Facebook and Twitter, Fernandes is also active on LinkedIn and Instagram.

Nick Foley, president, Southeast Asia Pacific and Japan of Landor & FITCH told Marketing that Fernandes used Twitter to his benefit for a number of years, and decision to delete his account “is bemusing” given his previous predilection for the platform. He added:

The move to delete his Twitter account appears to be highly reactive at best and churlish at worst. No doubt, the Twitter caravan will simply move on.

Meanwhile, Carolyn Camoens, managing director Asia, Hume Brophy said it is hard to say if Twitterverse will miss Fernandes as there are many business and thought leaders on the platform who continue to use it as a tool with which to engage directly with the public. Nonetheless, Camoens said Fernandes had a significant following and from the brand’s perspective, it was used to good effect during crisis, where his timely and regular communications were valued as open and authentic.

As a platform, however, Twitter will not be negatively impacted as it is a thriving platform which will remain valued by users for the immediacy of the way information is shared and the particular way in which the platform drives conversation, Camoens explained.

When asked if this was a smart move by Fernandes, Camoens said there is no fixed communications playbook and the rules change daily. On the one hand, there is data that says that trust is high in organisations where leaders are present and active on social. But on the other hand, Camoens said there are serious risks associated with a communique that has not been thought through or is misinterpreted.

Companies and spokespeople can only do what makes sense for them to maintain open, authentic communication with their audience. The channels and modes of communications will always vary.

Also weighing in on the issue is Stella Wong, brand and PR specialist at Malaysian branding agency Brand Soul Consultancy, who said deleting his Twitter account, to a certain extent, will probably affect the way consumers perceive him as a leader who cannot take constructive feedback. Twitter’s daily business operation, however, will remain unaffected, Wong said.

Wong added that Fernandes will be in the media spotlight again, getting questions from journalists such as what spurred him to make the move and whether he will continue to use other social media channels such as LinkedIn.

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