Volkswagen’s crisis communication: Twitter use during #dieselgate
thesisposted on 24.05.2021, 10:44 by Josephine Lim
On September 18, 2015, Volkswagen became embroiled in a global crisis after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) publically announced Volkswagen’s violation of the Clean Air Act through the installation of “defeat devices” that trick emission tests. The Volkswagen emissions scandal was covered by media around the world and news spread quickly on social media networks, such as Twitter, though a trending hashtag, #dieselgate. Through studying Volkswagen’s Twitter accounts (the Twitter account for the overall brand, a regional Twitter account and a Twitter account targeting the press), this case study analyzes Volkswagen’s adoption of the Situational Crisis Communication Theory’s (SCCT) rebuild and bolstering crisis response strategy on Twitter, but with little open communication through this medium. Information shared on Volkswagen’s Twitter accounts was inconsistent and Volkswagen’s limited adoption of a conversational, human voice on social media affected the virality of organizational messaging. Volkswagen was progressing towards recovering its social currency on Twitter, but updates on the crisis or similar news related to the situation encourages greater hostility and apathy towards the organization.