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When Donald Trump's Twitter account briefly disappeared last week it was blamed on a departing employee of the social media giant.
The account was offline for a total of 11 minutes and while many celebrated what has been described as the ‘best 11 minutes of 2017’, Twitter was scrambling to explain how a worker had been able to silence such a prolific and high-profile voice.
After initially blaming the deactivation on ‘human error’ it later clarified that ‘this was done by a Twitter customer support employee who did this on the employee’s last day’.
My Twitter account was taken down for 11 minutes by a rogue employee. I guess the word must finally be getting out-and having an impact.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 3, 2017
This is of course not the first time an employee has ‘gone rogue’ on social media and it is not always caused by an employee delivering a parting shot.
Here are some other memorable incidents:
One of the most infamous social media mutinies came when disgruntled staff took over HMV’s Twitter account to express their anger at being fired.
Workers at the entertainment store reported live on their sacking as administrators who took over the business confirmed news of 190 job losses.
The messages, which all had the hashtag #hmvXFactorFiring, spread rapidly across social media despite being deleted after around 20 minutes.
The series of tweets started with one saying ‘we’re tweeting live from HR where we’re all being fired! Exciting!!’.
Another memorable part of the thread was the post which read ‘Just overheard our Marketing Director (he’s staying, folks) ask ‘How do I shut down Twitter?’ – we can only imagine his panic.
The tweets went on to be covered by just about every major newspaper causing a further round of embarrassment for the beleaguered brand – a PR disaster which could hardly have happened at a worse time.
Managing the disgruntled tweets of frustrated commuters must be a challenging role.
But one Transport for London worker had clearly had enough when he responded to one complaint with a particularly unhelpful reply.
When a commuter named Dan tweeted ‘Sort it out @LDNOoverground if I’m late once more this month I lose 25% of my salary. Are you lot reimbursing me?’ he was met with a somewhat unexpected reply which said ‘leave early you will not be late next time. Hope this helps’.
@dan_down Leave early you will not be late next time. Hope this helps— London Overground (@LDNOverground) April 4, 2014
Transport for London tweeted Dan an apology and also issued a more formal apology in light of wider media interest in the exchange. It said: “We apologise to Dan for sending him this extremely unhelpful message. Dan is absolutely right to complain and we are looking in to the circumstances of how it came about.”
Another amazing staff meltdown on Twitter came when a Marc Jacobs’ intern took to Twitter to bid a not so fond farewell before he left the role.
The thread, saw CEO Robert Duffy branded as a ‘tyrant’ and added that he would be ‘praying’ for his successor.
One tweet read: “You guys and girls have no idea how difficult Robert is. I am only an intern. My last day is tomorrow. I wouldn’t be tweeting this if not!”
The posts came just a few weeks after Mr Duffy had stopped tweeting because of a series of PR gaffes.
Despite the tweets being deleted, it did not prevent widespread media coverage of the posts.
@MarcJacobsIntl did at least offer some important advice when it posted about the exchange. It said: “All is well here at MJ. Twitter is a crazy place. Protect your passwords.”
All is well here at MJ. Twitter is a crazy place. Protect your passwords.— Marc Jacobs (@marcjacobs) March 25, 2011
Chrysler opted not to renew its contract with its social media agency after a tweet laced with the f-bomb was sent from its account.
The Tweet read: “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to f**king drive’.
Embarrassingly it came as the motor city theme was at the centre of a Chrysler advertising campaign and it quickly reported that its account had been ‘compromised’.
It is believed the employee thought they were tweeting from their personal account, but Chrysler said it would have had ‘issues’ with the tweet even if it had not come from its own account due to the conflict with its advertising campaign.
These examples show how companies have been blindsided by their own employees or contractors on social media.
On our social media training courses we discuss the importance of businesses not losing control of their social media profiles.
It is crucial brands know who has access to social media accounts, including volunteers, contractors and freelancers.
There should be a policy in place about updating passwords when people leave. It is also important to put a system in place to monitor what is being said about your business on social media.
And if the worst happens you need to be prepared – and able – to take swift action.
Media First are media and communications training specialists with over 30 years of experience. We have a team of trainers, each with decades of experience working as journalists, presenters, communications coaches and media trainers.
Click here to find out more about our highly practical social media training courses.
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