deborah petersen.social media editor.writer.guide

Unraveling Social Media One Tool at a Time

Lessons from The Onion


Sunday night’s tasteless Oscar Tweet by The Onion holds a lesson for all of us.

Oh, yeah, and there is the obvious teaching moment: “You don’t call a 9-year-old actress by a vulgar name on Twitter.”

Last night when my editor told me of the Tweet, at first I thought he surely had it wrong so I searched for it. The Tweet had already been deleted. Still, it took me all of 2-3 minutes to find it.

And, if you Google it right now, you can easily find it. It is here on Wired:

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That is because even though The Onion rightfully deleted the Tweet and the CEO issued an apology today, that Tweet is never going to go away. Wired took a screen shot of it. Many others did too. I found it because someone took a screenshot of it, and then Tweeted it. I promptly took  a screen shot of her screen shot, and that Tweet is sitting among the photos on my iPhone. You see how it works, this a high-tech game of telephone. Except in this case, The Onion has more than 4 million followers, and as the message passes among them and beyond, it does not get changed or watered down. It is an exact replica (Wired smudged out the word) of The Onion Tweet.

Now or 10 years from now, I could Tweet it, post it on Facebook, email it to all of you, even make a poster out of it.

Unlike  those at The Onion, we are real journalists, and so none of us is about to do something so impulsive and stupid. Yet, we all make mistakes. And, all of us hate that moment when we have to step up and correct those mistakes by tweeting a correction and often deleting the Tweet too. However, this deleting an erroneous or distasteful Tweet does not make it go away. Nor does an apology (but it helps).

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This entry was posted on February 25, 2013 by in Twitter, Uncategorized and tagged .
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