In one of the most shocking social media gaffes of all time, US Airways sent out a tweet Monday that accidentally included an extremely lewd photograph involving a woman and a model airplane.
The incident occurred as part of a conversation with a customer on Twitter. The brief exchange had @ElleRafter complaining about flight delays and US Airways responded with, “We welcome feedback, Elle. If your travel is complete, you can detail it here for review and follow-up.” However, what followed was not a link to US Airways’ feedback page, but the aforementioned photograph, which truly epitomizes the tag “NSFW” (not safe for work).
To make matters worse, the pornographic image remained online for about an hour. US Airways even sent another (innocent) tweet afterward, still unaware of the public relations storm that would soon erupt. The airline did eventually delete the tweet and sent an apology.
American Airlines Group (the parent company of US Airways) spokesman Matt Miller offered an explanation, saying that another Twitter user tweeted the picture at US Airways. The tweet was then captured and flagged as inappropriate yet somehow ended up inadvertently sent in the now-infamous tweet instead.
In a somewhat surprising turn, the employee responsible for sending the tweet will not be fired. Miller said that the incident “was an honest mistake.”
US Airways is now reviewing its social media processes to ensure that an episode like this does not happen again.
How would you react if your company accidentally sent an inappropriate image via social media? Do you think US Airways was correct to retain the person who sent the tweet?