What Caused the NSFW Tweet from US Airways

Prasant Naidu
Prasant Naidu Founder, Lighthouse Insights

Posted on April 16th 2014

What Caused the NSFW Tweet from US Airways

US Airway Twitter Goof up

Goof ups by brands on social media aren’t new. But what happened yesterday with US Airways is the worst nightmare a brand could face on social media. The airline is now occupied with damage control after inadvertently publishing a pornographic tweet in response to a frustrated customer query.

The episode started from a routine tweet from a customer who was unhappy with multiple delays from the airlines. US Airways Twitter handle chose to reply by sending a sympathetic tweet which backfired as the customer wasn’t too happy. What followed next was quite unimaginable – the US Airways Twitter asked for a review and follow up along with a link to an extremely graphic photo of a woman and a model airplane. The below tweets summarise the incident:

US Airway TwitterThe said graphic tweet was pulled down about an hour later by which time it was retweeted by more than 600 people.

Finally, US Airways issued an apology without blaming any intern for the mistake.

According to Mashable, many airlines use Twitter as a forward-facing customer relations platform. US Airways tweets about 412 times per day, according to travel industry tracker Skift. The image in question was attached to a tweet sent to @AmericanAir at 1:59PM, 30 minutes before US Airways sent out a tweet with the same image attached. American Airlines and US Airways use the same social media tool, SNAP100.

Talking to the Ad Age US Airways said the image was “posted into our feed by another user. We captured the tweet to flag it as inappropriate. Unfortunately the image was inadvertently included in a response to a customer.”

US Airways said it is “currently reviewing our processes to prevent such errors in the future.”

What is interesting is that brands typically catch mistakes like this before they go live, with an approval process in place. But then there is no undo button on the Internet and there is no way a brand can avoid being the butt of jokes. Twitter users don’t leave such opportunities especially from a service brand that is accustomed to regular Twitter backlash.

Mashable has already curated 38 priceless Twitter reactions to the NSFW US Airways tweet and states that,

“People are having a ball after US Airways sent what may go down as the most offensive brand tweet of all time, which contained a lewd picture involving a woman and a model airplane.”

Some of the best tweets are listed below:

Prasant Naidu

Prasant Naidu

Founder, Lighthouse Insights

Founder and Blogger at http://lighthouseinsights.in, Indian social and digital media news.

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Comments

When in heavens name are we going to quit using interns for customer service? Guess we haven't learned that one yet. 

When in heavens name are we going to quit using interns for customer service? Guess we haven't learned that one yet. 

Thanks for your comments. But it isn't a job of a intern nor the brand has blamed an intern. It is the side effects of becoming too much automated :)

sorry--I had read in another post it was an intern or "outsourced" worker.

No worries Chris, I guess they need to cut down at their daily benchmark of 450 twitter requests in a day.