Remember the pornographic Tweet sent earlier this week by US Airways?
Well, news cycles are short these days. And it’s old news. But it is important enough that the airline’s parent, American Airlines Group, did a Q & A on the incident its most recent employee newsletter. US Airways had already said that the picture was an honest mistake and no one would be fired over it.
Here’s what went out to US Airways and American employees on Thursday:
As reported, a customer posted a tweet to the US Airways Twitter feed with a link to a very offensive image that any of our followers could view by clicking the link. Under our previous protocols (“previous” because we’ve improved them following this incident), an employee alerted other members of the social team to not engage with the poster and not respond to the tweet. They also captured the link and used an “explicit warning” notification to warn the rest of the social team not to open the link, and to watch for attempts to post it on other social media channels. They did that by copying and pasting the offensive link. The post was subsequently deleted as part of this process.
Later, when responding to a completely different customer on a completely different matter, the same employee pasted what they thought was a customer service link. But, of course, the link they pasted was the offensive link. …And you know the story from there.
In response, we immediately accepted responsibility for this accidental share of the link and posted an apology on the US Airways Twitter feed. Twitter also disabled the account to prevent others from posting to it. We also shared that apology with a number of media outlets who had seen the social media traffic.
From a process standpoint, we have made improvements to help prevent such accidental occurrences, including deleting offensive posts immediately and not sharing these links internally. The employee involved was attempting to do exactly what they should do – prevent a very offensive post from being shared broadly and to warn co-workers not to open the link. They then made a simple mistake that any of us could do with an errant email or text message. In this case, it was able to be viewed by a broad audience.
We continue to work with the social media team on improving our process, and appreciate their promptness in alerting our company to the problem and accepting direct accountability for the error.
We understand the embarrassment this has caused our co-workers, and we’re working hard to mitigate the damage from this incident. We have a superb social media team that is highly professional, very responsive and navigating in a world where seven billion people are potentially their audience in real time. That’s a big responsibility and one they take very seriously. No one feels worse about this than the team, and they should not be judged by one moment in time and one mistake.
To this last point, the conversation has now gone from the scintillating photo and mistake tweet to how our company has handled the incident (see what Mashable had to say). The silver lining is we were upfront, transparent, swift in admitting our mistake and protective of our social media team, who has been recognized both in and outside of the industry as one of the best out there. This unfortunate mistake does not change that, and only gives us the opportunity to get better.