Bad accidental tweets for British journalists to make: “Queen Elizabeth has died”

Ahmen Khawaja is a reporter for the BBC in England.  The BBC, like any other major news organization, will periodically rehearse for the deaths of major figures, like the Queen of England.  According to reports, such a rehearsal was taking place on June 3.  The rehearsal had been planned for some time and was known to be taking place within the BBC.

Khawaja, who was not participating in the rehearsal, allegedly overheard what she thought was breaking news.  As a result, she sent the following tweet to her thousands of followers: “BREAKING: Queen Elizabeth is being treated at King Edward 7th Hospital in London. Statement due shortly: @BBCWorld.”  Coincidentally, the Queen actually was at the hospital for her annual checkup.

Shortly afterward, Khawaja sent out the following:

Queen Elizabeth Dead tweet

Not at all.  The Queen was, and is, very much alive.  Upon learning of her error, Khawaja deleted the tweet and sent out the following:

“Whoops” doesn’t even begin to cover it.  Perhaps even more bizarre is that Khawaja attempted to explain the tweets away as a prank:

BBC Prank

However, when the BBC apologized for the error, they said that it was a mistake, not a prank:

“During a technical rehearsal for an obituary, tweets were mistakenly sent from the account of a BBC journalist saying that a member of the Royal Family had been taken ill. The tweets were swiftly deleted and we apologise for any offence.”

Khawaja is now expected to face disciplinary action, but should keep her job.

First, when you screw up, be honest and admit it.  Don’t try to lie your way out of it, because you’ll get caught: This wasn’t a prank.  Khawaja got bad information and sent it out as if it was real.  Then she tried to lie her way out of it.  Bad move.

Second: There is a desperate need to verify any and every piece of information that you send out.  Khawaja, as a reporter, should have known better.  Always check the information you use social media for, including it’s source, and if there is a story as major as this, make sure that you can find legitimate news sources reporting on such an event.

Tweets and Consequences

Like the blog?  Get the book!  Tweets and Consequences: 60 Social Media Disasters in Politics and How You Can Avoid A Career-Ending Mistake is now available on Amazon for purchase or download.

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