Twitter is a powerful business tool that is not going anywhere anytime soon. It has 140 million active users worldwide and is growing daily. People use the tool to communicate their personal and professional brands. What are the dangers of so readily being able to put a message out worldwide? Has anyone failed to recognize the public nature of the site and got him or herself in trouble with his or her employer? Of course it's happened. Here we look at some of the most notorious bluTwitter blunders.
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Gilbert Gottfried Goes off Brand
Gilbert Gottfried was the spokesperson for Aflac, the large insurance firm, when he was unceremoniously sacked after making tasteless jokes on Twitter about the Japan tsunami last year. The tsunami was a national tragedy for Japan, destroying both lives and property across the country. His tweets were insensitive and caused his employer – the top foreign insurance company in Japan – to end his contract.
Has he learned from the faux-pas? His statement after the event was: "I was born without a censor button. My mouth and now e-mail will continue to get me into trouble." This suggests that this will not be the last time Gottfried says the wrong thing.
Scott Bartosiewicz Gets Confused
The story of Scott Bartosiewicz is a lesson for any corporate executive that has both a personal and business account on Twitter. Bartosiewicz, a social media strategist in the workplace for New Media Strategies, used a tool to manage several Twitter accounts from one platform. However, it turned out to be a dangerous strategy, and Chrysler was not pleased when he tweeted that Detroit was filled with horrible drivers in a profanity-laced tweet. Needless to say, Bartosiewicz had thought he was tweeting from his personal account, but this did not appease Chrysler. Bartosiewicz lost his job and Chrysler didn't renew its contract with New Media Strategies.
Politicians Get It Wrong
A U.K. politician felt the full brunt of his tweeting errors when he lost his job after Twitter remarks. Stuart MacLennan, a candidate for the Labour Party, made jokes and insulted women, the elderly and minorities before the Labour Party fired him. An apology by MacLennan failed to save him from being sacked. "I am young and stupid, but that doesn't quite cut it and that's why I'm gone," he said after the incident.
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Octavia Nasr Ends Her 20-Year Career
The Senior Editor of CNN learned the hard way that Twitter was not the place to publish her views on Middle East politics when her tweet, sent from her official CNN Twitter account, got her sacked. The comment, "Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah. One of Hezbollah's giants I respect a lot," caused her to be fired from the network after a 20-year career.
It Could Happen to You
Watch out, it's not just senior staff or famous faces who have gotten in trouble through the social networking site. Connor Riley, a recently graduated student, learned the hard way that big brother was watching, after posting about her new job offer on the site. She tweeted, "Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work." Unluckily, Cisco was online and she quickly received a reply from Cisco employee Tim Levad reading: "Who is the hiring manager? I'm sure they would love to know that you will hate the work. We here at Cisco are versed in the Web." We can only speculate if this Internet indiscretion cost her the job.
The Bottom Line
Twitter is a great online tool that is only growing in popularity. Be warned, it is a public medium and these examples only serve to remind us of that fact. Be careful what you tweet!