Sometimes, the most outrageous and unlikely of tweets come from the most official and serious of sources. This might be entirely by mistake, but occasionally it’s a deliberate act of rebellion and sabotage.
Here are three occasions on which people following professional accounts must have spat out their coffee in amazement at what they had seen on their Twitter feed, starting with the one you’ve no doubt heard about over the weekend:
1. UK Civil Service
Most Twitter activity over the weekend, at least here in the UK, centred on the controversial mid-lockdown trip to Durham made by Boris Johnson’s chief advisor Dominic Cummings, and the Prime Minister’s defence of it on Sunday. It appears this prompted one disenfranchised civil servant to vent their frustration via the organisation’s official Twitter feed, tweeting:
“Arrogant and offensive.
“Can you imagine having to work with these truth twisters?”
The tweet was deleted within 20 minutes, but not before being retweeted 16,000 times, and being reported live to BBC One’s audience.
The UK Civil Service has deleted their tweet about Boris Johnson’s Dominic Cummings press conference.
Not to worry though, the BBC has broadcast the message to millions of people on BBC One ensuring it cannot be missed! pic.twitter.com/5mylrAllGW
— Charlie Proctor (@MonarchyUK) May 24, 2020
It remains a mystery who was responsible for the rogue tweet, but writer J.K. Rowling has said she will donate a year’s salary to the culprit if they become known.
When you find out who it was, let us know. I want to give them a year’s salary. https://t.co/D7DRlwcjty
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) May 24, 2020
2. The American Red Cross
A more accidental inappropriate tweet made it onto the page of the American Red Cross in 2017. It read:
“Ryan found two more 4 bottle packs of Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch beer…. When we drink we do it right #gettngslizzerd”
An unlikely stance from a humanitarian group that plays an important role in American healthcare, but it turns out it was simply a mistake by the organisation’s social media specialist Gloria Huang, who tweeted from the wrong account via HootSuite.
The big winner was Dogfish Head Brewery, which found itself at the centre of some accidental advertising, and used it to encourage donations to the Red Cross.
3. Historic Royal Palaces
In the run-up to the 2019 General Election, Historic Royal Palaces somehow managed to accidentally declare its support for the Conservative Party manifesto with this tweet:
“This #ConservativeManifesto focuses on the people’s priorities. #VoteConservative to get Brexit done, invest in our NHS, put more police on our streets, and properly fund schools. Share now: vote.conservatives.com/our-plan.”
The excuse given by the charity, which is meant to be politically neutral, is that somebody mistakenly clicked a button that automatically tweets the content from another tweet they had interacted with.
Those are just three examples of awkward tweets that were quickly swept under the carpet. For many more, the website Politiwoops keeps a record of deleted tweets from politicians.
How can this be avoided?
The second and third of these mishaps appear to show the importance of making sure you sign out of professional accounts when performing personal activity. However interesting and enticing a tweet might be, save it for later before interacting with it if you are tweeting on behalf of a company or organisation.
As for the first one, well, just don’t give your employees any reason to be that fed up, I suppose!