Telstra: Our fake Stephen Conroy won’t lose his job

Telstra has reacted to the revelation that Twitter’s Fake Stephen Conroy is employed by the telco, by putting up a blog posting explaining its position.  

Rather than issuing a press release, Telstra’s Mike Hickinbotham – the company’s senior adviser on social media – has posted a message on his The Scrum blog, which is part of the company’s Now We Are Talking site.

As Mumbrella reported earlier today, the much-discussed Fake Stephen Conroy – who was outspoken in highlighting what he presented as the government’s cluelessness over digital issues including Internet filtering – was revealed as Telstra employee Leslie Nassar.

But with speculation that the Twitter profile had been deleted – it disappeared for several hours today – Hickinbotham has posted a message headed “The real facts about Telstra and the fake Stephen Conroy”.

In it he says: “Leslie is not going to lose his job as a result of announcing he is the Fake Stephen Conroy; Telstra did not shut down Leslie’s Twitter account; Telstra did not out Leslie as the Fake Stephen Conroy; Telstra’s policy is that only selected spokepeople deal with the media.”

Pointing to the fact that discussions in social media are sometimes seen as a grey area where they feel like a private conversation, but can get wider exposure, he says: “The case of Leslie is different, he understands the whimsical nature of social media and in particular Twitter.  This isn’t a case of solving the problem by offering social media training.  Leslie made a conscious decision to engage in social media.”

It is unclear whether that leaves the door open for other disciplinary action, short of dismissal, for Nassar.

Hickinbotham, who Tweets as @M_Hickinbotham  is due to give a presentation to Mumbrella’s masterclass in social media next month on how Tesltra uses Twitter.

Update: The row has escalated with further Fake Stephen Conroy postings telling Hickinbotham: “I was fine with being told to drop FSC, but don’t throw me under the fucking bus just to make Telstra look social-media savvy.”


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.