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WARNING: ADULT CONTENT
If you were on Twitter after the Oscars then you are aware of “The Tweet.” It was sent out at 8:42PST and taken down within an hour of being posted. Its content divided Twitter users between defenders of satire and those standing up for a 9-year-old Oscar nominee.
@TheOnion, the satirical media outlet that recently gained notoriety for its “coverage” of the Newtown shooting, posted the tweet about Beasts of the Southern Wild star Quvenzhane Wallis:
Coming to the young actress’s defense was former star of The Wire, Wendell Pierce who posted several tweets in response including:
As the tweet generated discussion on Twitter it also grabbed headlines including this one from the Associated Press: Onion Criticized For Joke About Quvenzhane Wallis
The Internet never forgets so it will be interesting to see if and how @TheOnion will respond. Will they fire the tweet’s author? Will they stand by their post? Will this story continue to build? Will Twitter take any action against @TheOnion? Will this post test the free speech rights of Twitter users?
UPDATE: @TheOnion has offically apologized with this Facebook post:
Feb. 25, 2013
On behalf of The Onion, I offer my personal apology to Quvenzhané Wallis and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the tweet that was circulated last night during the Oscars. It was crude and offensive—not to mention inconsistent with The Onion’s commitment to parody and satire, however biting.
No person should be subjected to such a senseless, humorless comment masquerading as satire.
The tweet was taken down within an hour of publication. We have instituted new and tighter Twitter procedures to ensure that this kind of mistake does not occur again.
In addition, we are taking immediate steps to discipline those individuals responsible.
Miss Wallis, you are young and talented and deserve better. All of us at The Onion are deeply sorry.
Brian Adams (@brianadamspr) is the US Communications Director @WildAid. He also consults with nonprofits, including Komera Project and Samahope, regarding communications strategy. Brian was previously Senior Director of Communications at United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley and the head of Media and Community Relations for the MSPCA-Angell. A version of this story first appeared on the author's blog.