As Twitter becomes increasingly mainstream, and more businesses, brands and celebrities jump on the social bandwagon, situations like this are bound to happen:
A few words meant as a text or private direct message (DMs for short) will be sent into the Twitter stream for all the world to read.
This was the case with actor Rainn Wilson who meant to text his assistant but instead sent a public tweet that made it look like he was accepting $12,000 to promote Del Taco‘s food even though he actually believed that food to be “shitty”.
Confusing a DM with a text or tweet can seem careless and lazy, but many serious Twitteraholics have done this at least once. Tweeting from smart phones is common, and many Twitter users have it in their settings for DM notifications to be sent to their phones. When you get a DM to your phone, it shows up just like a text, which makes it all too easy to reply back to without even realizing the major guffaw you are committing.
While social media is still relatively new, some brands have already made huge, non-accidental PR blunders via Twitter. Kenneth Cole’s tweet making light of the unrest in Egypt as one of the most noteworthy.
How we all learn to navigate through our new social world is something I’m kind of eager to observe, quite honestly. It brings about a whole new element of media, PR, image and damage control. Tweets can be sent in an instant and remain, lurking in your history even when deleted.
I’m sure that Rainn Wilson is only a first of what will be many celebrities caught in a social media fire storm. And how many future political messes will involve social media? Debates are already underway for the next presidential election.