Politicians themselves are frequently the ones who make a stupid tweet; when that happens, there is no one to blame but the boss. Of course, it goes without saying that staffers are frequently the ones who manage the boss’ Social Media, and sometimes, like anyone other staffer, they make mistakes or do something so stupid that it warrants a firing. Here are four examples of cases in which staffers were fired for a stupid move on Social Media, be it on behalf of their elected official boss or ridiculous things that they said and did on their own.
1) Obama’s Gma: During the 1st Presidential debate of 2012, the official Twitter account for KitchenAid sent out this tweet following President Obama’s mention of his Grandmother:
Reaction condemning the tweets was swift, =even from KitchenAid, who apologized and deleted the tweet within eight minutes. A more formal apology came from Cynthia Soledad, the company’s senior director of branding:
“During the debate tonight, a member of our Twitter team mistakenly posted an offensive tweet from the KitchenAid handle instead of a personal handle. The tasteless joke in no way represents our values at KitchenAid, and that person won’t be tweeting for us anymore. That said, I lead the KitchenAid brand, and I take responsibility for the whole team. I am deeply sorry to President Obama, his family, and the Twitter community for this careless error. Thanks for hearing me out.”
2) Me likey broke girls: During the 2013 Super Bowl, a semi-racy (but mostly parody) ad featuring the actresses from CBS’ Two Broke Girls appeared. The following tweet was then sent from Congressman Raul Labrador’s (R-ID) official twitter account:
The account was deleted within fourteen seconds by the man who had sent it in the first place, Labrador spokesman Phil Hardy. Labrador fired Hardy anyway.
3) Hurricane Sandy: At the height of Hurricane Sandy, a series of tweets containing false information appeared from @ComfortablySmug, which was the Twitter account of Shashank Tripathi, a campaign aide to Christopher Wright, who was running for Congress in New York’s 17th District. Among other things, Tripathy claimed that Governor Cuomo was trapped in Manhattan, the entire New York City subway system would be shut down for a week, and that Con Edison would be shutting down power to all of Lower Manhattan; none of these things were true. Tripathy would apologize for his remarks, but Wright wisely fired him anyway. Wright still lost.
4) Shoot the peaceful protesters: In 2011, Jeff Cox was serving as a Deputy Attorney General in Indiana. At the time, Wisconsin was debating the highly controversial measure to make it a “right to work” state, a measure that would significantly weaken organized labor; as a result, unions from across the state were protesting in the State Capitol. Cox, then, decided to take to Twitter to give his thoughts about how to clear the protesters:
Further investigation revealed that Cox ran a blog in which he had made other violent comments. Cox was fired by the Attorney General’s office, which stated:
Today the Indiana Attorney General’s Office announced that Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Cox is no longer employed by this agency.
The Indiana Attorney General’s Office conducted a thorough and expeditious review after “Mother Jones” magazine today published an article attributing private Twitter postings and private blog postings to Cox.
Civility and courtesy toward all members of the public are very important to the Indiana Attorney General’s Office. We respect individuals’ First Amendment right to express their personal views on private online forums, but as public servants we are held by the public to a higher standard, and we should strive for civility.