In 2017, tweets caused media outlets and staffers numerous problems. Before you hit tweet in 2018, take a look back at some of the Twitter snafus from the past 12 months so you can hopefully avoid these problems in 2018.
Old Tweets: The Mail Online reported on a breaking news incident, citing a ten-day-old tweet, confusing and possibly causing hysteria. In late November, there was a false alarm incident at Oxford Street in London. The Mail reported on that, including a tweet about a “lorry stopped on the pavement” and “police all around and blood on the floor,” apparently thinking the tweet was from the Nov. 24 Oxford Street incident. But, the tweet the Mail cited was from Nov. 14, from a separate incident when a window-cleaner fell. The Mail later published a correction and apology for its “grave error.” By paying close attention to the date stamp and checking facts, the tweet fail could have been avoided. Read “Mail Online Wrongly Reported 10-Day-Old Tweet as News”
Hoax Twitter Accounts: Hoax or parody Twitter accounts often duped the public and news media. There were several cases of that in 2017, including Breitbart, which fell for a parody Donald Trump Twitter account, the New York Times, which fell for a fake Gen. Michael Flynn Twitter account, and the Times of London, which fell for a fake Twitter account for Brigitte Macron, the wife of French president Emmanuel Macron.
Flat out wrong tweets: Some tweets are just flat-out wrong. One prominent example came from Fox News early in 2017, which was tweeting about the shooter in the Quebec City mosque attack. Fox News tweeted the shooter was Moroccan-born, but the accused shooter is actually French-Canadian. A Moroccan-born man was a witness to the shooter, though. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office complained to Fox News about the tweet. Read “Fox News Deletes Quebec City Tweet, Moroccan-Born Man NOT a suspect.”
Tweets that cost you your job: Dave Lozo, a freelancer with Spirited Media’s The Incline, lost his gig with the site when he criticized one of ESPN public editor Jim Brady’s columns, calling Brady the “dumbest person alive.” What Lozo didn’t know is that in addition to being public editor for ESPN, Brady is also the CEO of Spirited Media. Read “Freelancer Dave Lozo loses gig after calling ESPN public editor ‘dumbest person’”
Poorly worded tweets: In July, the Wall Street Journal tried to play off of the all-white undergarment rules at Wimbledon with a tweet accompanying a story about an Austrian player who was apparently wearing blue undergarments. The Journal tweeted, “Something’s not white! At Wimbledon, a player failed his pre-match undergarment check.” But, the tweet was paired with a photo of Venus Williams, and the juxtaposition of “something’s not white” with a photo of a black woman prompted complaints. Read “WSJ tweets ‘Something’s Not White’ with Venus Williams Wimbledon Picture, Quickly Hits Delete.”
Political tweets: ABC-Chicago sports anchor Mark Giangreco got in trouble with his employers in February after he dove into politics on his Twitter account, calling Donald Trump a “cartoon lunatic.” The tweet got him suspended. Read “ABC-Chicago Sports Anchor Mark Giangreco Suspended after Pres. Trump is a ‘Cartoon Lunatic’ Tweet.”
Flippant tweets: The Boston Globe admitted its tweet about white-power groups in April was “flippant” and inappropriate. The tweet linked to an Associated Press story, “With Trump in power, white-power groups try to build alliances.” But, the Boston Globe tweet seemingly made light of the matter because a photo of a burning cross and a burning swastika accompanied the tweet reading “Can white-power groups get past old differences and build lasting alliances?” Read “Boston Globe deletes ‘Flippant’ Tweet about AP ’White-Power Groups’ and Trump-Era Story.”
Anti-Semitic and racist tweets: The Gay Times, a widely read UK magazine, hired a new editor, Josh Rivers, in 2017. But, the magazine quickly fired him after his offensive, anti-Semitic and racist tweets from 2010 to 2015 were found by BuzzFeed UK. Read “Gay Times fires editor over anti-Semitic, racist tweets”
Controversial tweets: ESPN SportsCenter host Jemele Hill’s tweets this fall got significant attention, including from the White House, which called for her firing. On Sept. 11, in a handful of tweets, Hill wrote that Trump is “unfit, bigoted [and] incompetent,” causing ESPN to call her tweets “inappropriate” and talk to her. The next month, Hill was suspended for two weeks after she sent an “impulsive tweet” suggesting people could boycott the Dallas Cowboys’ advertisers in response to team owner Jerry Jones’s comments about players who protest the national anthem. Shortly after, ESPN issued new social media guidelines. Read all of our stories about Hill and her tweets.