The EPA loves Kim Kardashian!

The Environmental Protection Agency is the agency in charge of, you guessed it, environmental protection in the United States.  Like just about every U.S. government agency, it has multiple Twitter accounts, and that’s where this story begins.

Earlier this week, one of the EPA’s Twitter accounts, EPAwater, sent out this tweet:EPA_KimK

The tweet itself is is an auto-tweet from a Kim Kardashian iPhone game, Kim Kardashian: Hollywood.  In the game, players “Join KIM KARDASHIAN on a red carpet adventure” – so, pretty much, it’s Farmville, Kardashian-style.

The tweet itself was up for nearly three hours and had been retweeted more than 3,000 times.

In a statement to Buzzfeed, the EPA said that the auto-tweet was triggered by an EPA fellow.  An AP article said that the tweet was sent by an intern.

To their credit, the EPA poked fun at themselves:

Perhaps the best tweets on this issue came from Congressman John Dingell, the 88 year old Congressman who wrote the Clean Water Act:

Funny though this is, this is obviously still an embarrassing blunder for the government.  A few points:

  • Access: The EPA wasn’t clear on whether or not it was an intern or fellow who was controlling the account when this error was made, though that could have been due to a discrepancy from Buzzfeed or the AP.  Regardless, clearly, someone had access to the account who was ill equipped to do so.  There’s another lesson here: If anyone has access to an “official” account, make sure that they know to NOT set up any auto tweets like the one that was sent.
  • Timeliness:  This EPA account has over 52,000 followers, so we aren’t talking some baby account that is checked once a day.  As such, three hours is way, way too long for such an erroneous tweet to be left up.  More to the point, the errand tweet was retweetd more than 3,000 times before being deleted.  A quick review of the @EPAWater account shows that the average tweet was never retweeted or favorited more than a handful of times, meaning that someone should have noticed that something strange was going on.  I’m not sure who is minding the store at the EPA’s social media, but they need a better handle on their account.  Someone should have picked up on this error and deleted the tweet much quicker.
  • Response: For the two problems noted above, the EPA deserves credit for at least handling the issue with humor.  In all probability, the social media flub probably gained them more followers, though at the price of some credibility.

Anything to add about my analysis?  Let me know in the comments!

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