Roxane Gay, accomplished Twitter user and author, has not received her iPhone yet. Rather than settle this in private, she chose to publicly chastise Apple before her 89,000 followers about her missing phone. She also threatened to use the New York Times to settle the score. But it was just a joke!
Gay was clearly upset about the phone, and tweeted repeated requests at Apple CEO Tim Cook to personally rectify the situation:
Hi @tim_cook. Ive been on hold with Apple for 15 minutes.— roxane gay (@rgay) October 7, 2015
Hi @tim_cook, after almost 2 weeks of being told "it's shipping tomorrow," I am being told, "We have no inventory."— roxane gay (@rgay) October 7, 2015
Hi @tim_cook, now I am on hold again after the senior support advisor said, "inventory isn't my department," when prodded for explanation.— roxane gay (@rgay) October 7, 2015
And so forth (there are many, many more tweets like this, but I don’t want to strain your web browser).
The interesting wrinkle was here, where she threatened to use her vast and very public position as a New York Times opinion page writer to address a situation that pertains to literally her and her only:
That, @tim_cook, there is a credit authorization delay for replacements. I'm a writer so I can tell you, that is a terrible story.— roxane gay (@rgay) October 7, 2015
I guess I will just make this my new NYT column @tim_cook. How Apple Lost a Loyal Customer.— roxane gay (@rgay) October 8, 2015
Later, it was revealed to be just a goof:
I mean honestly. I am not really going to write a column about my damn phone. But idiocy abounds. Carry on.— roxane gay (@rgay) October 8, 2015
Still, it’s not unbelievable that someone at Apple would’ve taken her tweets seriously in the time between the apparent threat and apparent clarification. It’s why the Times’ own ethics handbook prohibits using your affiliation with the paper for personal gain:
News clerks, administrative assistants, secretaries and other support staff are generally not bound by these strictures, with two important exceptions: First, no newsroom or editorial page employee may exploit for personal gain any nonpublic information acquired at work, or use his or her association with The Times to gain favor or advantage.
Getting Tim Cook to personally expedite your iPhone 6S and perhaps give you a gift—
I should get a free ipad pro— roxane gay (@rgay) October 8, 2015
—lest he find himself portrayed poorly in the New York Times seems like such a misuse of association.
I’ve asked a Times spokesperson for comment and will update if I receive a reply.
Correction: This post originally stated that Gay implied she was kidding the day after she said she was going to write a negative post about Apple, when in fact it was later that day.