Michael Dell’s lesson in social media faux pas
By Edwin Yapp August 14, 2012
- IT magnate Michael Dell discovers how Twitter can be a risk factor for him and his family
- Daughter’s indiscretions on Twitter could lead to security risks; account allegedly suspended due to lax postings
BILLIONAIRE PC tycoon Michael Dell (pic) found out the hard way last week how technology can be a double-edged sword and could quickly turn on someone – this time it’s him – when efforts to keep the whereabouts of him and his family as secretive as possible were frustrated by someone from within.
According to a Bloomberg Businessweek report last Friday, Dell’s teenage daughter, Alexa, had been chronicling her life for all to see when she happily tweeted her followers with details such as where she would be, where she would be shopping, and the exact days she would arrive in, say a city like New York.
Businessweek also noted that she revealed such things as her high school graduation dinner invitation that foretold where – time, date, and the location – Dell and his wife, Susan, would be.
Other details that were made public included an online diary of the 18-year-old's life, down to her exact location thanks to her mobile phone GPS, as well as embarrassing stories of how Dell’s son, Zachary, sat on the family jet “devouring a Ritz-worthy buffet on his way to Fiji,” noted Businessweek.
Meanwhile, it seems Alexa’s tweeting days are over because as of the time Businessweek posted the story (Friday, August 10), her Twitter account was dead.
When contacted by Businessweek, a Dell’s spokesman declined to comment, noting only that “Dell doesn’t make any comments regarding Mr Dell’s, or his family’s, personal activities,”
Citing the Dell’s regulatory filings, Businessweek noted that Michael Dell spends about US$2.7 million a year on security protection detail on his family. Notwithstanding the huge sum spent on security, Dell's personal safety could have been easily compromised due to the youthful indiscretions and foolhardy actions of his daughter.
The business portal also quoted Jason Thorsett, the director of operations at bodyguard firm Custom Protective Services, as saying that Dell’s security detail “must have gone nuts when they saw what the billionaire’s kids were doing online.”
“I’m sure they called the dad and shut it down,” he says. “It’s innocent on the kids’ behalf, but social networking has become the bane of our existence. They undo a lot of hard work on Facebook (FB) and Twitter.”
According to Thorsett, the personal security industry has struggled to keep up with the rise of social networking as former CIA and Secret Service agents were not trained in the art of snooping Instagram.
“There are folks whose learning curve stopped, and they’re not up to date on these threats,” Thorsett told Businessweek.
Dell’s personal fortune is estimated to be US$15.9 billion and occupies the 41st slot on Forbes Magazine’s Billionaires’ List.