An office with the Hootsuite logo on the wall

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Hootsuite backs off ICE deal after getting called out

A viral Twitter post accused the company of entering into a three-year contract with the agency.

Sep 25, 2020, 10:55 am*

Tech

Mikael Thalen 

Mikael Thalen

Hootsuite, the popular Canada-based social media management platform, is backing off a deal it made with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after facing a heap of criticism.

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The backlash began with a viral post on Twitter where an alleged employee claimed that the tech company had signed a three-year contract with the federal law enforcement agency.

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“Been debating talking about this publicly because I don’t want to get fired, but it seems like the cat’s already out of the bag so whatever: yesterday Hootsuite signed a three-year deal with ICE,” @samelaanderson said. “Over 100 employees have been extremely vocal in their opposition to this deal.”

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The Twitter user went on to claim that Hootsuite moved forward with the deal even after being confronted by employees in Mexico City who had “relayed their personal experiences being targeted and harassed by ICE.”

“This makes it abundantly clear that Hootsuite puts profits above people,” @samelaanderson added. “This is a company that I’ve been overjoyed to be a part of for more than five years and I am so disgusted that this is who I turned out to be working for.”

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The account’s initial tweet has since been retweeted more than 6,000 times and received over 16,000 likes.

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Numerous Twitter users responded by stating that they intended to cancel their Hootsuite accounts. A petition was also created calling on the company to sever its alleged ties with ICE.

The Daily Dot reached out to Hootsuite to inquire as to whether the company had in fact entered into a business relationship with ICE but did not receive a reply.

But in a statement to BIV, Hootsuite spokeswoman Melanie Gaboriault did not say whether a contract was signed or not, just that the company was “not entering into a deal” with ICE.

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“As a business, we do not discuss specific customer deals, however, because of the sensitivity in this particular case, I can confirm that Hootsuite is not entering into a deal with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement,” Gaboriault said.

The Daily Dot also asked Hootsuite whether it had ever planned at any point to partner with ICE or if the agency had ever requested their services but similarly did not hear back. ICE also did not return a request for comment by the Daily Dot.

Hootsuite’s official Twitter account suggested shortly after, however, that it had in fact intended to work with ICE but opted not to “due to the attention around this particular case.”

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“We typically do not make public facing statements about specific customers or contracts,” the company tweeted. “However, due to the attention around this particular case we can confirm that Hootsuite has decided not to do business with the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.

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Hootsuite’s CEO, Tom Keiser, later confirmed in a statement on Thursday that the company was “determining whether” to sign a contract with ICE and ultimately “made the decision to proceed with signing a contract with ICE.”

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Keiser added that over the last 24 hours they decided to “not to proceed” with the ICE deal.

“I—and the rest of the management team—share the concerns our people have expressed,” Keiser said. “As a result, we have decided to not proceed with the deal with ICE.”

It still remains unclear whether ICE was provided with any work by Hootsuite given that a copy of the $508,832 contract stated that their partnership had started on September 18. The contract is between FCN Inc. and the Department of Homeland Security to offer “Hootsuite licenses.”

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Update 10:50am CT, Sept. 25: An ICE spokesperson told the Daily Dot it “recently awarded” a contract to a third-party vendor for Hootsuite. The spokesperson said the agency had “not received formal notification from the contract awardee that the company is unable to meet the contract requirements” but if it does the agency thought it would be “disappointing.”

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*First Published: Sep 24, 2020, 2:00 pm