No one can forget the Target scandal last Christmas, when millions of cardholders had their information stolen and the stock plummeted. The list of companies is growing longer and longer of who have been hacked and some sort of data has either been stolen or changed. The newest version of this scandal occurred in early April when US Airways sent out a shocking tweet to 420,000 followers. The tweet was in response to a customer complaint about a delayed flight. The response tweet included a dirty photo of a woman doing erotic things with a toy airplane. The worst part is that the picture remained online almost an entire hour after the tweet was sent out before someone corrected it, but at this point it had already gone viral. That day the scandalous tweet even beat out the announcement of the Pulitzer Prize winners in the trending topics.
For those of you in charge of twitter accounts at your companies, we all know that this is a worst case scenario and the social media specialist at US Airways more than likely wet themselves. Even though we all make honest mistakes at times, this is much, much graver than just a simple spelling error. Investigation later revealed that the photo had been tweeted at American Airlines (who just merged with US Airways) and in an attempt to report the picture, the URL was accidentally copied into the response tweet from US Airways to the angry customer. So how are you going to keep your social media accounts out of this shameful limelight? Here are a few tips:
- Restricting Access
Although we might not ever know who sent out the embarrassing tweet, it is still important not to share your social media account passwords with ANYONE. This might seem impossible (don’t we all have a companywide password sheet?), but there are ways to restrict access to certain users. With products like HootSuite you can assign levels of authority to different users. For example, a junior employee could be given “draft only” access where they can compose a tweet but are unable to post it without permission from a user with more access.
- “Are you sure?”
This simple prompt can be added to any twitter account and will give employees a beat to think about if they really want to send out that tweet. This can be added by making a Twitter account “secure”. This options allows you to manage your accounts individually, making some secure and some a free for all.
Before social media was invented, email software was invented to weed out all of the emails with offensive images and seedy links. The same software exists for social media and can be partnered with the social media platform a company already has in place. Considering that the scary image was from a German pornographic site, software like this would have eliminated the problem before it even happened.
- Track Unusual Volume
Apps like UberV are designed to track mentions of a company’s name and retweets so that a warning email can be sent out if there is an unusual volume of activity. This technology could have alerted US Airways much sooner of the mistake. Immediately, after the tweet was posted, it attracted automatic attention and UberV would have emailed US Airways automatically. This would not have prevented the slander at US Airways but they could have removed the tweet much sooner.
Overall, there is a lot at stake for those running social media platforms and those who send tweets every day. Precautionary measures, like the ones mentioned above, are essential in preventing mistakes like the one US Airways made. Think about the social media buzz that you want to generate and then think before you tweet.