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!

“Great win!” tweets Iowa Senator, whose team then loses

I’ve written previously about premature tweets in regards to sports wins, and it seems that we have a new entry into that category, this one courtesy of Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA).

Here’s what happened: This past Saturday, the Iowa Hawkeyes were battling the Michigan State in college football.  The winner of the game would become the Big Ten Conference champion, and with time running down, the Hawkeyes had the lead.  Senator Ernst then sent out this tweet:

JoniErnstHere’s the thing: The Hawkeyes hadn’t won yet.  And, in fact, they didn’t, as a touchdown by Michigan State in the final minute cost the Hawkeyes the game.


The congratulatory tweet was deleted and replaced with this:

While I understand why the errand tweet was explained as a “staff error,” I think this is a lousy thing to do.  Odds are that is exactly what happened, but that’s irrelevant.  I think a leader needs to take responsibility for anything tweeted under the name, and not throw some poor staffer under the bus – even if that is how it went down.

British police department in trouble for tweeting multiple rape jokes

Yes, you did read that title correctly: A police department in England really is in trouble for tweeting a couple of rape jokes.

The background: This past Sunday, the Everton soccer team defeated Sunderland by a 6-2 margin…a blowout, in soccer terms.  A Twitter user than sent the following to the Merseyside Police Department.  Everton, which is located in Merseyside, then responded.  That exchange below:


As if that wasn’t bad enough, they then came back for seconds:


Yeah, this went over poorly:

And, as you can imagine, Merseyside Police was forced to apologize:

What has since come out about this story is that one individual was responsible for the tweets, and that that individual “left the organization.” I didn’t think this needed to be said, but here goes: Never, ever, ever use the internet to make rape jokes.  Come to think of it, never ever EVER MAKE RAPE JOKES.

Tweets and Consequences

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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 Prints Available to Order (@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.

Roger Goodell last tweet

How not to tweet: Roger Goodell edition

As you may very well be aware, the NFL has been embroiled in a series of scandals related to their players and the unfortunate propensity of a very select few to beat women or children.  The league has been criticized by many for their inaction, and potential cover-up, as a result of these scandals.  Much of that criticism has been directed at Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner.  I’d like to approach this story from the social media angle, because as I recently learned, one of Goodell’s many screw-ups in relation to this disaster has been on Twitter.  Indeed, ‘d previously written about the scandal and Twitter, noting that the Baltimore Ravens deleted an older, victim-blaming tweet, with no explanation, related to the incident between Ray Rice attacking his then fiancee.

Goodell is on Twitter and had an active Twitter account.  I say had because he hasn’t tweeted since September 5, over a month ago.  This was his last tweet:

Roger Goodell last tweet

Three days after this tweet was sent the infamous video was released by TMZ. That video showed Rice striking his finance and knocking her unconscious.  From there, it somehow got worse. Rice was released by the Ravens and suspended by the NFL, but allegations emerged that the NFL had, in fact, seen the video tape which showed Rice striking his fiance.  Goodell, who had already been roundly criticized for suspending a woman beater longer than a marijuana smoker, reacted by lengthening penalties for domestic abusers, but the damage was done.

One of the items that Goodell has been criticized on was his lack of communication. The NFL was giving less than clear answers on a variety of fronts, like when they first saw the video tape.  The slew of criticisms resulted in many calling for Goodell’s resignation.

I think that Goodell compounded the problem by not being clear with who knew what, and when they knew it.  The public still remains angry at Goodell – just look at the latest tweets sent in his direction:

By not participating on Twitter, Goodell lost a vital opportunity to participate in this story, and shape the conversation around it.  The league claims to be open to transparency, and by Goodell not tweeting, its pretty clear that he doesn’t want to answer questions and that he has something to hide.

You don’t always have to live tweet a crisis.  I get that.  Sometimes, you need time to figure out a message and a communications strategy – the last thing you want to do with social media is go off half-cocked and have to walk back any message.

However, at some point, sooner rather than later, you have to reengage.  Personally, if I were Goodell and the NFL, I would get on Twitter and hold a Twitter Town Hall – yes, I am going back on my own advice – for the explicit purpose of giving people the chance to yell at me.  I would say, “I’m Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner, and the buck stops here.  I understand the public is furious with me, and they have every right to be.  I’m going to sit here and answer as many of your questions as I can.  I know the comments will be overwhelmingly negative, and I understand that.  I want to be constructive and try to address the concerns about me and the NFL – fire away #NFLTownHall.”  The tweets would be beyond negative.  But it would give Goodell the chance to be transparent, answer questions and start to rehabilitate his image, because let’s be honest, it really can’t get much worse.

The only reason you don’t engage is if you have something you still want to hide, or you think the scandal is going to get worse and don’t want to have to go dark again.  And if that’s really the case, Goodell should really resign.  Now.  Or, more appropriately, he should have done so a month ago.

Ravens Deleted Tweet About Janay Rice

The Ray Rice tragedy and Twitter: What the Ravens did wrong and the lesson you can learn

If you have been watching the news over the past week, you are likely familiar with the Ray Rice tragedy.  The background: Rice was suspended, for a mere two games, after knocking his then fiance (now wife) unconscious in an Atlantic City elevator.  Earlier this week, previously unreleased video emerged of the attack, which showed the sheer brutality of the assault.  In the video’s aftermath, Rice was released by the Ravens and suspended indefinitely by the NFL.

The entire situation is atragedy for everyone involved, and particularly for Janay Rice.  The NFL has screwed up the handling of this event from the start, and frankly, they should be ashamed of the way they handled this.  Heads will undoubtedly roll as the scandal continues to evolve, and similar things can likely be said about the Baltimore Ravens, who originally stood by Rice.

There is a bizarre social media angle to this story.  It started with this tweet, sent by the Ravens back in May, during a press conference in which Ray and Janay Rice spoke:

Ravens Deleted Tweet About Janay RiceThe implication of this tweet is obvious: Janay Rice was somehow responsible for being knocked unconscious by her husband.  It goes without saying that this tweet was abominably reprehensible.  No woman is ever responsible for being beaten by her husband.  I don’t know what the Ravens were trying to say here, and it’s completely irrelevant.  This tweet is one of the many actions taken during this incident that have led many, myself included, to believe that the NFL and the Ravens do not care about the welfare of women.

The tweet itself was bad enough.  But, after the release of the video, it got even worse, and the tweet began to be recirculated.  And then, the Ravens compounded the bad tweet by deleting it.

Deleting a tweet is, in certain circumstances, appropriate.  However, if you are going to delete a tweet, you must acknowledge the deletion and explain why.  Social media is all about transparency, and deleting a tweet without giving the reasons for the deletion reeks of a cover-up…which, you know, is exactly what this entire scandal looks like in the first place.  The Ravens should have deleted the tweet, but acknowledged it and said something like, “An earlier regrettable tweet regarding Janay Rice has been deleted.  We never meant to imply that Janary was responsible for the assault and regret that such an implication occurred.”

From a social media perspective, the lesson here is how to handle ill-advised updates.  If you screw-up (and everyone will at some point or another), deleting a tweet is okay – but, if you are going to do it, you must accompany the deletion with an acknowledgement of guilt and regret.

Of course, the Ravens have handled nothing about this case right.  Not sure why they would start now.