Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’


This is a real thing that happened on Friday.

Justine Sacco TweetAt 10am ET as her plane was taking off, Justine Sacco, (then) Senior Director of Corporate Communications for IAC - the $6B publicly traded digital media company run by Barry Diller with high-profile holdings like Match.com, Tinder, Vimeo, OK Cupid and College Humor - publicly tweeted "Going to Africa. Hope I don't get AIDS. Just kidding. I'm white!" - Before turning her phone off for the duration of her 10 hour and 46 minute flight to Africa.

Justine Sacco's career suicide unfolded in its entirety over the course of 10 hours and 46 minutes while she was on that plane.

Soon after she hit send (at around 10am), Valleywag writer and former Sacco Twitter follower Sam Biddle saw the Tweet and posted this story at 1:30pm.  Hundreds of media outlets picked up on Biddle’s post including The New York Times, New York Daily News, Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, Adweek, Business Insider, Mashable and many, many more. Hundreds crested over a thousand once IAC finally realized what was going on two hours (!) later and released a statement (presumably written by one of Sacco’s colleagues...awkward). By the time she arrived in Capetown, South Africa, her offending Tweet had sat atop her profile as the Internet’s punching bag for close to 12 hours and #HasJustineLandedYet was trending worldwide.

Regardless of your personal threshold for offensive humor or your views on free speech, there are smarter moves to make when your bio starts with "CorpComms at IAC."  But I'm not here to crucify Justine Sacco. The Internet has done a great job of that already.  Frankly, I'm more interested in how nobody at IAC seems to have noticed their front line communicator gleefully Tweeting a litany of remarks ranging from questionable to inappropriate to outright offensive for well-over a year.

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Kinky Boots

For a lot of people, holidays are a time to unplug from social media. For my family, last week's Thanksgiving holiday brought a reminder of its power and its dangers.

It started during a performance from the Broadway show “Kinky Boots” in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. This prompted my four-year-old niece to ask my brother-in-law what “kinky” means. (“Marked by unconventional sexual preferences or behavior, as fetishism, sadomasochism, or the like,” according to Dictionary.com, in case you were wondering).

After successfully changing the subject, he tweeted “Now I have to explain "Kinky Boots" to my kids. Thanks, Macy's. #MacysParade.” Within a few hours, he found himself labeled an intolerant bigot, as his tweet was featured in a Huffington Post story about “right wingers” who took to Twitter to complain about a show in which one of the main characters is a drag queen being featured in the parade.

As you can imagine, my brother-in-law was horrified. Hate tweets started pouring in. He realized his professional reputation was at risk (as a digital strategist at a university, he communicates with many colleagues in his industry via Twitter).

The Huffington Post eventually removed him from the story after he contacted them via email, social media and through their website. He also clarified what he meant on Twitter and drafted a blog post that allowed him to tell his story in more detail. I can’t imagine any lasting damage will be done, but he certainly had better things to do over Thanksgiving weekend than spend 48 hours being criticized for saying something he didn’t actually say.

I realize this sort of thing happens all the time on social media, but this was the first time I watched it happen to someone so close to me. I also realize this could easily happen to any of our clients. It’s a reminder that even offhand tweets need to be worded very carefully and the importance of moving quickly to correct the record (as my brother-in-law did) when something is misinterpreted or taken out of context. Better a few days of headaches than lasting reputational damage. End of Story


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Media Navel Gaze

The Week Unpeeled

The @ sign did some major overtime in headlines last week following the Twitter IPO, which by all accounts so far has been a success with early valuation at approximately $18 billion, led by Goldman Sachs, in the biggest tech launch since Facebook—not bad for a company that is losing money; Coverage not only focused on the launch, the wealth and the 140 characters but also social-media advertising and what businesses may be most successful in marketing on this platform.

Elsewhere:

  • The US employment picture brightened with an unexpected 204,000 jobs added in October amid upward revisions to the two prior months and a steady jobless rate of 7.3 percent and talk of less tapering in the months ahead;
  • The Dow ended the week 0.9 percent higher to close at a record 15,761 following a jobs-report rally on Friday;
  • President Obama made a major public apology over Obamacare and his “keep-your-plan” vow;
  • The biggest typhoon on record hit the Philippines with winds exceeding 170 miles per hour;
  • Nikki Finke leaves Deadline Hollywood, where the blogger broke countless celebrity and film-industry business stories and tweeted she has no non-competes so stay tuned;
  • Bill de Blasio wins the mayoral race in New York in a landslide left-leaning election;
  • A Tesla car was destroyed by fire after its battery was damaged, sending shares sharply lower for the closely watched electronic car company; and
  • Amid fall art-auction season, Christie set the highest price ever at $85 million for a triptych by British artist Francis Bacon . . . a week of superlatives all around. End of Story

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Media Navel Gaze

The Week Unpeeled

Twitter continued to gain (in my opinion, an inordinate) amount of coverage for its upcoming IPO (media loves to cover the media more than anything, right?), with per-share pricing valuing the company at more than $11 billion (hardly, the total in fines or near the legal bills for JP Morgan this year, by the way).  In fact, JP Morgan agreed to more settlements last week, this time with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac at $5.1 billion, for misleading the housing-financing agencies about the quality of securities sold.  #seriouslywhatsnext?

Elsewhere:

  • President Obama admitted the government health web site was botched, and the failed launch was blamed on poor coordination;
  • Housing refinancing is slowing and banks like BoA are laying off;
  • The US was called out for allegedly monitoring German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone #canwehearyounow?;
  • Time Warner will begin distributing Al Jazeera America;
  • Senior New York Times Editor Richard Berke is leaving the Grey Lady for Politico;
  • The US unemployment report was released, delayed by weeks because of the government shutdown, with only 148,000 jobs added in September (but did anyone really notice the delay?);
  • Prada joins the literati set by launching Journal Prada: A Place for New Stories, a showcase for writers who won a Prada literary contest #readytoread; and
  • Stocks ended higher last week, amid signs that the Fed will continue with its easy credit stance and strong tech-company results, with the Dow up 1.1 percent to close Friday at 15,570. End of Story

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Media Navel Gaze

The Week Unpeeled

Most of the business headlines were overshadowed by the Syria strategy flip flops until Twitter announced on, well, Twitter its plans to go public  -- full stop.  No details were forthcoming, using Jobs Act regulations that make disclosure unnecessary for companies under $1 billion in revenue and easy to tell all in 140 characters; Goldman won the IPO mandate and the news even made the full front page of The New York Post, showing media loves to cover media.

Elsewhere:

  • Tina Brown announced she was leaving The Daily Beast and publishing all together (at least for now) and focusing on a conference company based on her Woman in the World summits;
  • Bloomberg appointed executive editor Tim Quinson (an insider?) to be its standards editor, a new position put in place following the discovery that journalists were improperly accessing customer data;
  • Apple launched two new iPhones, one cheaper and in color and one fancier with fingerprint sensors;  investors did not bite;
  • In an apparent first, Bloomberg Businessweek  was behind a documentary on former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson called Hank, which debuted last week in time for the five-year anniversary of the financial crisis and will be available on Netflix;
  • Verizon offered a  whopping $49 billion in bonds last week for its acquisition of its wireless business amid whopping demand;
  • The Dow shape-shifted removing Hewlett-Packard, Bank of America and Alcoa and added Nike, Goldman Sachs and Visa; and
  • The blue-chip average soared 3 percent last week to end Friday at 15,376, the biggest gain since the first week of the year. End of Story

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