What businesses can learn from that US Airways NSFW graphic Tweet

What businesses can learn from that US Airways NSFW graphic Tweet

Summary: Yesterday US Airways inadvertently responded to a customer service tweet with a very inappropriate and NSFW image. Other businesses can learn from this to avoid potential irreparable damage to their brand

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Yesterday US Airways accidently responded to a customer service tweet with a very inappropriate image and PR fail. It was responding to a comment from a customer. 

Twitter user Elle was complaining that her flight had sat for an hour on the tarmac at Charlotte, North Carolina making it an hour late in Portland, Oregon. Elle was annoyed that US Airways had not “bothered to address her other Tweets”.

US Airways responded with a very NSFW image which had been sent to the @AmericanAir Twitter account.

us airways SFW - Copy
Image: Twitter

It quickly deleted the Tweet and followed up with an apology. "We apologize for an inappropriate image recently shared as a link in one of our responses. We’ve removed the tweet and are investigating."

This tweet was sent to US Airways partner American Airlines. US Airways responded to BuzzFeed by email saying "We captured the image to flag it as inappropriate. Unfortunately the image was inadvertently included in a response to a customer."

"This is the classic example of where one mistake can damage a reputation in minutes."~ James Leavesley, CEO Crowd Control 

There are a few lessons to be learned here.

— Using dashboard software such as TweetDeck and Hootsuite can be dangerous. Sure they allow you to have multiple accounts and post as multiple different users but the risk of cross posting is huge.

If you are pressed for time, mistakes can easily be made.

— Logging off one account and logging onto another account can be time consuming and irritating. It does mean that messages designed for one account never end up being published by another account.

— Using an audit trail for all social media activities can quickly identify which member of the team made the error so that you can act to mitigate any further risks that might occur. 

— Having a trusted third layer between the world and the brand could ensure that nothing goes out unless you intend it to. We can deliver a kicking instant retort when we hit the reply all button on email — but regret it the instant that it goes out. Having a preventative third layer could stop this from happening.

— Validation software could be used to moderate all messages before they go out. Software such as Social Instinct, CDS, Social SignIn and Crowd Control HQ social media moderation tools could send all messages to a senior member of staff before they are approved to go out

Crowd Control CEO James Leavesley, explains how this could have been prevented:

“This is the classic example of where one mistake can damage a reputation in minutes.  Using validation software means users can be set up so their content is sent to a holding pen, before going live, that will then be authorised by a manager/senior member of staff.

Even an organisation of this size needs to have visibility over what is being sent out. US Airways have stated that they are investigating the situation. However, finding out who posted the tweet, even though it was in error, can be the hardest thing to do if you have no monitoring system.”

If you really want to see the original tweet  and image — which originated on a German porn site — and is very NSFW, it is here. But don’t say I didn’t warn you it is NSFW.

Some things you just can’t unsee. Hopefully US Airways will move onwards with a lot more caution in its social media activities in future.

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Topics: Social Enterprise, CXO

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11 comments
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  • Edit...

    "If you are pressurised for time mistakes can easily be made."

    Unless this is an intended pun, I recommend "pressured for time" :)
    robradina@...
    • Of course...

      "pressed for time" might be even better...
      robradina@...
  • and..

    "under pressure" is quick, if you are "pressed for time"

    "If you are under pressure, mistakes can easily be mlade."
    ;)

    Carl Williams
    CEO PianoFactor
    https://www,pianofactor.co.uk
    www.PianoFactor.co.uk
  • Best technique of all

    fire the heck out of (and sue the heck out of) whoever did it... make a big example of them for all the other social media staff.
    Mac_PC_FenceSitter
  • Oh no! A vagina!

    Honestly, for a country (U.S.) that takes such pride in our open and free society, we are the most puritanical little whiners in the World. It never fails to amaze me how the same people who are offended by naked bodies don't have a problem with horribly violent and misogynistic music and movies; they'll pay ten bucks to watch people be slaughtered on the big screen...and they'll pay even more to listen to some dude rap about his phat pimpin' skills.

    Naked people offend and frighten us; as though we didn't have genitals, ourselves.
    ribzilla
    • You may view human sexuality as the equivalent of two dogs humping

      mud. Those of us who are human beings prefer to treat the subject with a bit more respect, decorum and dignity.
      baggins_z
      • Why should we?

        It's the same thing as two dogs humping. It just something we do because it's enjoyable and relives sexual tension, just like dogs. We don't need it to be some big deal that no one can talk about.
        Brock Jones
        • Practice what you preach?

          So by your reasoning, you would be completely ok with your wife, girlfriend, or daughter (if applicable) to flash her vag, and humping like dogs all over the internet? Hmmmm.
          bguss72
    • Would you?

      Would you post a pic of yourself with your dick poking out all over the internet? No? Then you are a hypocrite. That's the problem with many people these days. If it doesn't affect them, they have a different opinion than if it did affect them. Not about you and how you feel. It's about what's appropriate and not appropriate. Unless you get off on being an exhibitionist, nudity and sexual acts are meant to be private.
      bguss72
  • Double Checks

    The bigger issue here seems to be the use of "double checks" prior to commenting on any type of social media. As the article states, if another set of eyes had previewed the tweet prior to it being posted, then US Airways wouldn't have had to even worry about an apology or saving their reputation. Unfortunately, this is a tough lesson learned as companies and organizations become so reliant on social media...it can't really ever be permanently removed and it only takes one bad posting or mistake to jeopardize the public image of the organization. Or one bad post jeopardizing the job of a communications department employee.
    jag5830
  • Social Instinct for social media moderation

    For more information on the Social Instinct social media moderation platform, mentioned in the story, please contact us at www.socialinstinct.com.
    a_basco