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Questions over Woolworths whistleblower

Sep 06 2012 14:02

Company Data

WOOLWORTHS HOLDINGS LIMITED [JSE:WHL]

Last traded 0
Change 0,74
% Change 0
Cumulative volume 1856802
Market cap 62.68bn

Last Updated: 19-09-2014 at 04:26. Prices are delayed by 15 minutes. Source: McGregor BFA

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Cape Town – The integrity of Justin Harrison, the blogger who started a war of words on social networking sites on Woolworths Holdings [JSE:WHL] allegedly racist employment policies, has come under fire.

2oceansvibe ran an exclusive on Thursday on Harrison’s social networking activities, begging the question if he is possibly South Africa’s biggest online fake.

“Following an extensive investigation, 2oceansvibe can reveal that the blogger whistleblower has some integrity/challenging skeletons of his own,” the website reported.

Harrison, self-proclaimed internationally recognised internet marketing expert and internet marketing entrepreneur, blogged on Sunday that Woolworths SA blatantly posted ads on its career site that excluded whites.

“As a post apartheid child, I am neither politically motivated or (sic) inspired, however the increasing blatant racist economic policies that are very clearly exclusive of whites is starting to require a voice and some decisive action,” he wrote.

He has repeatedly stressed that his vocal campaign against Woolworths has nothing to do with boosting his own public profile.

Concerned about only doing the “right” thing, Harrison wrote: “I think it’s high time that in 2012 businesses stop cowering to the ANC lead government and realise it is their customers that keep the lights on, not government or government policy.

“If South African businesses continue to marginalise any sector of the population, black, white, colored (sic) or Indian they face the wrath of public led justice and we will see these companies economically crippled.”

In answer to a tweet of Afrikaans singer Steve Hofmeyr, he tweeted: “I just know what I am standing for here…”

Stressing that the exposé has nothing to do with the strength or weakness of Harrison’s dispute with Woolworths, 2oceansvibe said its examination of Harrison’s online behaviour is only to see whether it  squares with his repeated exhortations to do what is morally right.

The 2oceansvibe investigation showed that:

• Harrison, who has an impressive number of followers, is relatively unknown in the South African twittersphere.
• 15 000 of his followers have never sent a tweet, and a further 5 000 have tweeted 1 to 49 times only.
• Harrison was called out for the high number of fake followers on his account as far back as 2009.
• On August 9 2012, his already-inflated twitter following jumped from 17 500 followers to a staggering 44 000 in a single day.
• Two videos on Harrison’s YouTube account have garnered 10 646 and 10 523 views respectively. The viewership is not only almost identical, but is excessive for a highly niche subject, produced and uploaded in South Africa.
• On Facebook, Harrison boasts 34 631 likes. That is in comparison with his closest “competitors” Quirk (2 158 FB likes) and Hello Computer DraftFCB (713), two of South Africa’s most critically acclaimed digital marketing agencies. The social media arm of history’s most culturally-pervasive ad agency, Ogilvy Mather (global), fails to even make it past the 10 000 mark on Facebook likes.

Harrison failed to respond to numerous requests for comment.

Instead, he pointed 2oceansvibe to a paragraph in his latest blogpost: “I will also not be doing ANY press interviews or answering ANY press questions, as this is not about raising my profile or pushing my own agenda.

“It’s about getting the people of South Africa talking to each other and using the only medium I know how to get that happening.”

Meanwhile, Woolworths has disabled its Facebook wall.

The retailer said this decision was not taken lightly: “When your page becomes little more than a platform for a well-orchestrated campaign of hate speech, we owe it to our customers not to subject them to such vitriol in our own house.”

In a notice posted on its wall, Woolworths said it has in a variety of channels repeatedly refuted the claims and has allowed thousands of comments debating the pros and cons of employment equity as a national debate, but  “we have to put our customers first”.

- Fin24

* Follow Fin24 on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

* Click here for the full 2oceansvibe article.




woolworths  |  employment equity
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