Biggest Social Media Fails of 2017
Twitter trolls take over U.K. snack brand Walkers' social media campaign.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
It's been a big year for social media fails -- and the year has hardly started.
It only took five days into 2017 for a major company to embarrass itself on social media, accidentally posting a tweet containing a racial slur.
Since then we've seen some other pretty high-profile fails, including one from the White House Press Secretary (who tweeted what could be his password) and a host of spelling snafus, including one from the Department of Education.
This is only the beginning, though. As we found last year, when it comes to marketing and social media, it's all too easy for a small error to have big implications. Take a look at these cautionary tales -- and let them be a warning to us all.
Check out the major social media fails of 2017 -- so far.
Twitter trolls take over U.K. snack brand Walkers’ social media campaign.
U.K. snack company Walkers launched a social media campaign asking fans to tweet a selfie using the hashtag #WalkersWave for a chance to win free soccer tickets to the UEFA Champions League final.
The company turned the selfie submissions into a video, featuring former soccer player Gary Lineker holding up the images in front of the stadium. However, the company didn't properly vet the selfie submissions, and images of serial killers, sex offenders, dictators and more appeared.
The company apologized for the incident and pulled the plug on the campaign.
We recognise people were offended by irresponsible & offensive posts & we apologise. We are equally upset & have shut the activity down.— Walkers Crisps (@walkers_crisps) May 25, 2017
News alert from Fox News says that Trump spent his weekend in the White House, but he was really on a golf vacation.
As the president of the United States, it should be typical for Donald Trump to spend time in his new home -- that is, the White House. But Fox News decided that Trump spending the weekend in the presidential estate qualified as “breaking news,” which they tweeted about on Sunday, March 26.
It turns out that Trump wasn’t even at the White House. Instead, he spent his weekend golfing and watching television at the Trump National Golf Club in Virginia.
No he didn't. But if he did is that really news? https://t.co/Fu1Uh4DEpU— Marc E. Elias (@marceelias) March 26, 2017
1.) This is not newsworthy.— Matt McDermott (@mattmfm) March 26, 2017
2.) This is flatly false.
3.) This is what propaganda looks like. https://t.co/M2Hn8x1dcp
McDonald’s Twitter account bashes Trump.
When you think of politics, fast food chain McDonald’s doesn’t typically come to mind. But on the morning of March 16, the company's Twitter account was pretty vocal.
With what the company attributed to the work of a hacker, @McDonaldsCorp sent out a tweet to its 150,000-plus followers that bashed President Donald Trump, calling him “disgusting,” pointing out his “tiny hands" and wishing Barack Obama was back in office.
The tweet lived on McDonald’s Twitter page for a solid 30 minutes before being removed, and the company addressed the mishap in a tweet.
Twitter notified us that our account was compromised. We deleted the tweet, secured our account and are now investigating this.— McDonald's (@McDonaldsCorp) March 16, 2017
Hacker or not, McDonald’s may have lost a loyal customer.
A post shared by Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on May 26, 2016 at 2:29pm PDT
The PwC accountant caused the major Oscars blunder because he was too busy tweeting.
Feb. 26, 2017, marks one of the biggest flops in Oscars history, when Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway announced the wrong movie as Best Picture. It wasn’t Beatty or Dunaway’s faults, though, the error was caused by PricewaterhouseCoopers accountant Brian Cullinan. He was working backstage during the awards show and his only job was to make sure the right envelopes got in the right hands -- and he was specifically warned to stay offline so there would be no distractions.
Turns out, a simple warning wasn’t enough. Cullinan was too busy tweeting during the Oscars that he gave Beatty the wrong envelope. (Hey -- who wouldn’t want to tweet a picture from backstage at the Oscars?)
U.S. Department of Education Misspells Tweets
It’s one thing for a government agency to misspell something. It’s another when the U.S. Department of Education does it.
On Feb. 12, the Department of Education tweeted a quote by late civil rights activist and NAACP co-founder W.E.B. Du Bois -- or as the agency spelled his name on Twitter, “W.E.B. DeBois.” That’s right, the Department of Education misspelled Du Bois’s name.
Education must not simply teach work - it must teach life. - W.E.B. DeBois pic.twitter.com/Re4cWkPSFA— US Dept of Education (@usedgov) February 12, 2017
To make matters worse, in its public apology tweet, the agency made another grammatical error -- offering its “deepest apologizes” for the earlier typo. After receiving a great deal of backlash from the Twitter community, the department gave its apology one more try hours later.
CNN Mixes Up Faith Evans with Faith Hill
Country singer Faith Hill has a lot in common with R&B singer Faith Evans -- they’re both singers, they share the same first name, they … OK, that’s about it. On Friday, Feb. 3, CNN tweeted that Hill would be releasing an album of duets with The Notorious B.I.G., who passed away 20 years ago.
Hill, for her part, took this apparent news in stride, and responded to CNN’s tweet saying how “awesome” that would be. But alas, CNN had the wrong Faith.
Faith Evans, who was married to the late rapper, announced she would be releasing this duet album in May, in honor of his 20-year death anniversary.
Sean Spicer May Have Tweeted His Password
With the number of cyber attacks today, people have been warned hundreds of times now to be careful with their passwords. In 2016, Mark Zuckerberg made it pretty easy for hackers to break into his account with his password “dadada.” But no one’s quite made it as easy as the new White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
Spicer may have just posted his password in a tweet out to his 214,000 followers. The nonsense tweet, which read “n9y25ah7,” fits perfectly under the Twitter password criteria that requires a minimum of six characters.
Yahoo Finance Tweets a Racial Slur
Yahoo Finance failed to proofread before posting a tweet containing a racial slur on Jan. 5. When informing followers about Donald Trump’s plans to make the Navy “bigger,” the company misspelled bigger with an “n,” Mashable reports.
The post was up for more than an hour, received a major response from the Twitter community and was retweeted more than 1,000 times before Yahoo Finance removed it and apologized. A mishap that inspired users to create memes and public figures to speak out in disappointment, this is perhaps one of the largest (and most derogatory) typos we’ve seen yet.
Another news outlet conquered by the "b" and "n" keyboard proximity pic.twitter.com/v0sSAntdso— WJ (@WMsDiary) January 6, 2017
Wendy’s Accidentally Tweets a Hate Symbol MemeAt the start of 2017, Wendy’s took the world by surprise with some sassy remarks on its Twitter account. In response to Wendy’s tweet about its “fresh, never frozen beef,” a Twitter user called Wendy’s a “joke,” saying that the food chain does freeze its beef. Wendy’s fired back, and banter between Wendy’s and the tweet author grew -- eventually going viral. As a result, others began tweeting at Wendy’s too -- in hopes of a sassy response from the fast food giant (which is exactly what they got).
2017 is off to quite a start. pic.twitter.com/V9XWY7J4gp— Parker Molloy (@ParkerMolloy) January 3, 2017
@dpeacock980 Your dignity— Wendy's (@Wendys) January 4, 2017
@sophiesphoenix delete your account— Wendy's (@Wendys) January 3, 2017
Things went south -- fast. Overzealous, the company took things too far. When asked by a Twitter user, “Got any memes?,” the company tweeted (and deleted) a meme of Pepe the Frog -- which was declared a “hate symbol” by the Anti-Defamation League in September 2016 -- dressed as the Wendy’s mascot. Last year, the image of Pepe was frequently used to express racist and anti-Semitic messages.
"Our community manager was unaware of the recent political connotations associated with Pepe memes, and it has since been removed," Wendy's social-media manager Amy Brown told Business Insider.
IHOP Claims Its Twitter Was Hacked After Retweeting an Anti-Hillary Post
Be careful what you click on. IHOP learned that the hard way.
After retweeting a Twitter post that called Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign “garbage,” the company attempted to cover up its tracks by claiming it was hacked. The breakfast giant promptly removed the post and tweeted: “After investigation, we have confirmed that our account was hacked.”
It wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for another company to fall victim to hackers, although people were suspicious of IHOP. Why would a hacker break into the diner chain's Twitter simply to retweet a post by @poojaslays?
Maybe IHOP's claims are true, or maybe a bitter community manager just wants you to feel the “Bern.”
@IHOP No use hiding it now. IHOP is confirmed socialist.— Div (@askforcombi) January 15, 2017
@IHOP i used to eat at your restaurant two times per day. now i will be eating there 0 times per day. don't lie to your followers about this— 10,000 bees (@sexualjumanji) January 15, 2017
President Trump Tweets How “Honered” He Is
Since grade school, we’ve all been taught the importance of spell checking something before submitting it. Turns out our Twitter-loving President Donald Trump didn't get the memo.
As the President of the United States, it should be a given that you’d spell check everything before sending it out to the public -- especially a tweet to almost 22 million followers. On his first day in the Oval Office, President Trump sent out a Tweet about how “honered” he is. The Tweet was deleted shortly after, but some folks were able to save and share the president’s spelling mistake.
Saving this for postority. pic.twitter.com/wmnanHjPWF— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) January 21, 2017
Before he became the 45th president of the United States, Trump may have gotten a hall pass (or a few) for sending out tweets and deleting them. Now that he’s taken office, deleting tweets, or any other form of communication for that matter, could be in violation of the Presidential Records Act.