Recently we seem to have come across a number of seemingly top companies making big oopsies on Twitter, posting offensive/off brand comments either thinking they were logged in to a different account, or from disgruntled ex employees.
One of its kind is currently kicking off on Twitter… the, um, interestingly named “#spasticgate”
Earlier today @wired posted an explanation about why it was posting multiple tweets:
Queue many disgruntled tweets from @wired followers, unamused by the use of the word ‘spastic’:
Now then. This causes some questions to be asked, not unlike previous oopsies that have occurred on Twitter. In this case, @wired are putting it down to colloquialisms in the US vs offensive language in the UK – but the main problems that are arising are that a. they have an international audience, b. they are using Wikipedia as a definition source and c. they still haven’t apologised.
I mentioned this to the office, and got varying responses. To me, the best thing they could do, regardless of them meaning to be offensive or not, is apologise – they have offended some people regardless, and so should apologise for that. So far this has not happened. Other people in the office are a bit more lenient about the situation, stating to lighten up and that people use ‘colloquial’ offensive language all the time – why should this be any different?
In my eyes, @wired have a readership and a reputation to uphold, and regardless of how ‘off the cuff’ Twitter is, thought always has to go into these things before posting. They are quite clear on saying that it wasn’t meant to be offensive, but ultimately that is beside the point – if I called a gay person a fag, or just anyone a c*nt, regardless of the jest/lack of offensive intent behind the word, it would be seen as offensive. I’m obviously not a saint, and I have said things I probably shouldn’t have done, but the difference is I didn’t say these on a global social media platform.
The best idea for @wired is to suck it up and apologise. This won’t go away quickly unless they do, and continuing to provide evidence for the US use of the word is all very well, but nothing compared to a sincere ‘sorry folks, I messed up, didn’t appreciate the difference in meaning’. I feel a bit sorry for the employee responsible, but if you’re going to be on a global platform you have to take these things on the chin, learn and move on.
In 5 minutes (in Twitter-world time) there’ll be something else for people to moan about, but for now let’s hope this blows over and doesn’t affect their readership….