Soccer league allows for creation of offensive and racist twitter badges

The UEFA is the Union of European Football Associations, one of the major soccer leagues in Europe.  Tickets went on sale for the league’s championships, and to celebrate and promote, the UEFA ran a Twitter promotional campaign which allows for users to have their Twitter handle automatically merged into a graphic with the country of their choice in order to show their support.  The created images were then tweeted out by a bot from the UEFA twitter account.

This was a bad idea:



If this sounds familiar, there’s a reason for that: It has happened before, to the New England Patriots, when a bot allowed for the creation of racist team uniforms.

Anyway, the UEFA apparently deleted some of these tweets, but obviously too late.  The lesson?  You can’t crowdsource and automate the approval and creation of images which also have your brand name on them.  Doing so is an open invitation for trolls who want to sully your good name with their own bad one.  Too bad.


Tweets and Consequences

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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!

Chuck Pagano

Twitter Q&A with NFL Coach Chuck Pagano goes poorly after fake punt disaster

Why, oh why, will no one STOP DOING THIS??

Okay, first, the background.  Chuck Pagano is the coach of the Indianapolis Colts.  On October 18, Pagano and the Colts were playing a tight game against the New England Patriots.  Down by only six and with the ball late in the 3rd quarter, the Colts were faced with a 4th & 3.  They elected to punt, and then, this happened:

You don’t have to be a football fan to know that was a complete disaster.  The trick play went catastrophically wrong and the Patriots scored on the next possession, ultimately winning the game.  Pagano took responsibility for the play and was widely ridiculed.

Anyway, that brings us to last week, when, during a radio apperance, Pagano’s weekly radio show sent out this tweet:

Fans, of course, were too happy to oblige, and the questions were brutal and hilarious:

In all fairness, this is something which Pagano does on a weekly basis.  The radio show is obviously a recurring program, and the account has, on previous occasions, solicited feedback:

However, the account has only sent out four tweets since September 22 – and the last one previous to that was in Janurary.  In other words, no one would have noticed if the account hadn’t tweeted, which begs the question: What the heck were they thinking!??!

So, all together now: In the aftermath of a controversy on PR disaster, don’t hold a Q&A session like this…and certainly not when you just know that the questions are only going to serve to magnify some major, previous error.

Why to be careful what you “like,” featuring RGIII

Alright, so this one isn’t a political fail at all, but it’s still a very important lesson for public officials on social media – and really anyone.  The lesson is this: Be careful what you like.

Robert Griffin III is a quarterback for the Washington Redskins who was recently demoted to backup after a variety of issues pertaining to performance, relationship building and accusations of immaturity.  This decision, of course, was not appreciated by some Redskins fans, who naturally took to social media to blast their team.  One such example was on Instagram:

View this post on Instagram

As a Skins Fan I'm disappointed in the way my team used this mans talent and potential to do nothing but raise hopes and make a profit. I don't regret the skins grabbing RG, I do regret having a sorry ass team owner and sorry ass front office who couldn't put a winning coaching staff together who could actually compete for a super bowl. Griffin does not deserve the blame or bad rap, the man has gone above and beyond since day one to the point of injury, while at the same time being a role model of a person. The Redskins let him fall and did not help him get up. No matter if he's a starter, back up, or played for another team I will always respect and be a fan of RG3. #HTTR #Loyalty #ImpeachDanSnyder #Redskins #redskinsnation #DC #NFL @rgiii @espn @nfl

A post shared by Chef Omar Giovanni Marroquin (@xtramambosauce) on

Strong words, but from a fan, where words like this are a dime a dozen (that’s not a criticism, that’s just a sports fact).  So, what’s the problem?

RGIII liked the post.  And, given the wording which bashed the Redskins management and ownership, that was not a good idea.

In a followup post on Instagram, RGIII “set the record straight,” and used an old standby – he blamed the intern:

Well, who knows, that may very well be the case.  Regardless, a silly mistake by an organization which is currently swamped with disaster upon disaster, which most recently included the wife of Scot McCloughan, Redskins General Manager, directly obscene tweets to a reporter.

The lesson?  You have to be so careful on social media that you need to even watch what you like, as these clicks can easily come back to haunt you.

Baseball player benched, then suspended, for using Instagram during a game

It’s something we’ve all probably done: You go to the bathroom and grab your phone, putzing around on Instagram or Facebook.  Well, there are times when social media use is inappropriate.  One of those times is in the middle of a baseball game…that you are playing in.

Unfortunately, Pablo Sandoval, third baseman for the Boston Red Sox, didn’t realize that.  Last Wednesday, during the 7th inning of a game against the Atlanta Braves, Sandoval went to the bathroom, went on Instagram, and liked at least one photo.  He was quickly caught by other users:

This action violates Major League Baseball’s social media policy, which expressly prohibits social media use during a game.  As a result, Sandoval was suspended for one game, a punishment which he accepted. To his credit (not that he really had a choice), Sandoval copped to his in-game Instagram use, took responsibility and apologized:

“I know I [messed] up and made a mistake yesterday. I learned from that. I’m a human being. I made a mistake. I apologized to my teammates, the team, the organization, the fans who support us … I didn’t send a message, I hit the like [button]. I was in the bathroom in the seventh inning. It was the wrong time. I learned from that.”

Not a big deal; mistakes happened, and it was handled well by Sandoval.  And hey, it could have been a lot worse: He could have tweeted during a death penalty trial.  The lesson here, of course, is obvious: There is a time and a place for everything.  Even social media use.

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.