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How did US Airways publish a pornographic tweet?

It’s been a rough time for airlines lately.

Airlines haven’t had a good run lately

Qantas isn’t making money.
Malaysia Airlines… well, we all know about that one.

And the latest to be hurt is US Airways who have (accidentally?) posted a pornographic tweet.

How are US Airways handling the social media crisis?

  1. Deleted the tweet an hour after it was posted
  2. Published a new tweet apologising:

We apologize for an inappropriate image recently shared as a link in one of our responses. We’ve removed the tweet and are investigating.

— US Airways (@USAirways) April 14, 2014

They’re responding quickly  - although there’s room for improvement with timing – and rationally by trying to discover the facts before making bold statements.

The coming 24 hours will be telling for whether they are able to kill the issue quickly or prolong it.

Either way, there will be serious brand damage and I’m sure their Corporate Communications team won’t be sleeping much tonight.

We’re having some debate in the Social@Ogilvy office about how this might have happened: was it an error by a time-poor Social Media Manager or an intentional move by a disgruntled employee?

What do you think?

I’ll keep this post updated so come back to learn how the crisis unfolds…!

Update 1:20pm HKT Thursday 15th April:

Statement from US Airways according to the Sydney Morning Herald:

“Unfortunately the image was inadvertently included in a response to a customer… We immediately realised the error and removed our tweet. We deeply regret the mistake and we are currently reviewing our processes to prevent such errors in the future.”

Posted: April 15th, 2014
Categories: social media
Tags: , ,
Comments: 2 Comments.
Comment from Joanna - April 15, 2014 at 2:44 pm

I’m not sure how that could be accidental. It’s not like that’s the kind of image you have any reason to have on your work computer or to be accessing on work time.

Comment from Hannah Law - April 15, 2014 at 3:25 pm

Hi Joanna,
Apparently the offensive image was tweeted to the US Airways account first so perhaps a Social Manager had saved it to their computer? Or am I being naive?!

Here’s what SMH has to say “The airline acknowledged that the image came from its Twitter account but said it was sent by mistake. US Airways said the image was originally sent to the airline’s account and US Airways tried to flag it as inappropriate.”