One of the more unfortunate timed tweets ever sent by a political organization happened in the aftermath of the 2012 Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting which killed 12 and injured 70. Following the shooting, @NRA_Rifleman sent out this tweet:
The tweet and account was later deleted (though the account was reinstated), with the NRA saying that the twitter user was unaware of the shooting and that the tweet itself was taken “out of context.” If you’ll notice, the tweet was sent via HootSuite, which allows tweets to be scheduled in advance. That, combined with the fact that the tweet was sent at exactly 9:20 (Hootsuite allows for tweets to be scheduled every five minutes and at times ending in 0 or 5 only), led many to believe that the tweet was simply scheduled in advance and forgotten about. This was a great lesson in Hootsuite and other scheduled mechanisms: They are highly useful and convenient, but cannot be confused for auto-pilot.
Fast forward to last week, when a nine year old girl accidentally shot and killed a gun instructor with an Uzi. Naturally, the tragedy has started a conversation about guns in America. And, once again, the NRA sent out a poorly timed tweet. The tragic shooting in Arizona happened on Monday. On Thursday, as noted by Media Matters, the @NRAWomen account inexplicably sent out this tweet:
My first thought was that this tweet had to be scheduled in advance, but there is no “via Hootsuite” note in it, meaning that someone, somewhere, thought it was a good idea to tweet about how kids can have fun at a shooting range a mere three days after a nine-year old accidentally killed her gun instructor at a shooting range. The lack of common sense here is simply appalling.
The link in the tweet went to an article about how kids can have fun at a shooting range, but the article was published before the Arizona shooting. The NRA did not respond to requests for comment from the Huffington Post, and I couldn’t find any evidence of the group having commented on the errand tweet. It was deleted, so clearly they realized their error, but to delete a tweet and not apologize, or at least acknowledge their mistake, is a bad move. It shows a lack of transparency and belies a general misunderstanding of the reason that social media is used to begin with.
Oh well. Chalk this one up as another social media disaster for the NRA.