Washington Redskins tweet exposes astroturfing effort

I’ve written about the Washington Redskins and their social media fails before, including the recent tone-deaf tweet in which they wished everyone a Happy Thanksgiving – never mind the fate of the Indians who they continue to insult with their name.

Anyway, the Redskins are back at it again, this time with their Twitter account for Redskins Facts, whose biography says that the account and website is “a growing online community of passionate Washington Redskins fans.”

Oh, fans?  Really?  Check out this mistake, caught by Washington Post reporter Dan Steinberg:

Photo: Dan Steinberg/Washington Post

Photo: Dan Steinberg/Washington Post

An identical tweet was posted to the Redskins Facts account, then deleted, only to be reposted to the Washington Redskins account.  What does that likely mean?  The same staffer has access to both accounts and tweeted to the wrong account.  A careless mistake, but a common one – and a pretty serious screw-up, as it exposes the truth behind the Redskins Facts account.

This is a classic example of astroturfing, the term used for when a business or corporation attempts to create the illusion of grassroots support, when an entire advocacy effort is, in fact, controlled and funded by the corporation itself.

This is also a reason why transparency is so important on Twitter.  It’s pretty easy to make mistakes on the medium – most users who have been at it long enough have made these types of errors.  That being said, you can minimize the damage done with a screw-up like this if you are always honest and transparent.  Clearly, the Redskins do not hold either of these values as important!

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