Today’s social media fail takes us across the pond to England. UKIP, or the United Kingdom Independence Party, has become a political force to be reckoned with. They are a right-wing party that has repeatedly been accused of holding racist positions. Last week, in a Twitter blunder, they did themselves no favors.
Here’s the background: The BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) was holding a straw poll on whether or not UKIP’s leader, Nigel Farage, “had what it takes” to become Prime Minister of England. The poll itself involved people placing small balls into the “yes” or “no” bins, which were located in front of Westminster Cathedral in Westminster.
In response, the local UKIP Party tweeted the following:
Uhh…Westminster Cathedral is not a mosque. Not even a little bit. It’s actually a Catholic Cathedral that is consider the “mother church” of England and Wales. So, that tweet was…yup, tremendously wrong.
In an interview about the incident, Farage said, “The People’s army are not all wholly trained, they’re enthusiastic volunteers and volunteers make mistakes.”
Naturally, this is Twitter, so it inspired a meme: #ThingsThatAreNotMosques. This includes:
At least the party apologized for the blunder:
In general, this is the problem with volunteers running the social media operations for local political parties. It’s necessary, of course – no party has the resources necessary to pay others to speak on their behalf across en entire country – but giving untrained volunteers control of your brand can have disastrous consequences. The lesson from this incident as that, anytime you have volunteers tweeting on behalf of your organization, proper training and guidelines is absolutely critical. In this case, that training should have included how to fact-check tweets!