US Airways has been left red-faced after posting an embarrassing tweet on its official Twitter account.
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The error is the latest in a line of gaffes by different companies on social media, highlighting the problems many large businesses continue to have in managing digital communication.
US Airways posted a pornographic image, featuring a naked woman and a toy plane, on its account on Monday. The airline has more than 428,000 followers on Twitter.
The image had been tweeted to US Airways by another person. A member of the company’s social media team then attached it to a Twitter reply sent to a different customer, who had been complaining about a flight delay.
The airline confirmed to the Washington Post that it will not fire the member of its social media team responsible for the issue, because it was an accident. It said it “deeply” regrets the mistake, and will be reviewing social media processes.
US Airways also posted the following statement on Twitter (see image below): “We apologize for an inappropriate image recently shared as a link in one of our responses. We’ve removed the tweet and are investigating.”
The news prompted an outbreak of humorous Twitter responses. Rick The Ruler, referencing the detail of the picture, posted: “Do you fly to other parts or just those pictured?”
PaperWash posted: “My boss walked in and saw that pic on my terminal, and now I’m fired. Can I have the job of the guy you fire for posting that?”
That day, #USAirways became one of the top 10 trending topics on Twitter.
(The news was the latest Twitter headache for the group, which consists of US Airways and American Airlines. American was caught up in a Twitter controversy on Monday, after a 14-year-old Dutch girl sent a tweet implying she was part of Al Qaeda and planning an attack. The tweet was swiftly followed by a large number of other people sending similar messages.)
Meanwhile, US Airways is far from the only company to make such a gaffe on Twitter. Tesco, the UK founder of the Fresh & Easy chain that was recently sold to equity firm Yucaipa, was in 2013 embroiled in a scandal for selling burgers containing horsemeat. Only days after the scandal broke, it posted: “It’s sleepy time so we’re off to hit the hay!”.
In 2012, McDonald's launched the #McDStories hashtag, aimed at promoting wholesome food stories. But the hashtag was quickly taken over by disgruntled former employees complaining about their treatment, and customers highlighting problems with the food.
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