As we have seen over the past four weeks in our tweet regret blog series “Twit Happens”, human error is unavoidable on social media. The good news is, it is possible to recover quickly and gracefully if you understand the risks and have a strategy in place to mitigate them.

Tweet Regret in the News

Last week the EPA Office of Water took some heat for a confusing endorsement of a Kardashian game on their Twitter feed. This mildly embarrassing gaffe was caused by an EPA fellow allowing the game app to auto-tweet on her (and the agency’s) behalf. The agency handled it swiftly and gracefully with a follow up tweet that focused on the upside of being associated with such a famous name.

@EPAwater apology for Kardashian tweet

In this instance, the employee did not intend to harm or discredit the agency, but what happens when an employee with access to social does have more nefarious aims?

Employee Gone Rogue: What Might Go Wrong

In 2011, a White House national security official by the name of Jofi Joseph created an anonymous Twitter account criticizing government policies and employees, including President Obama. The Twitter account, @NatSecWonk, became known for ridiculing the Obama administration and criticizing many of Joseph’s own colleagues.

NatSecWonk tweet

The consequences

After months of investigation, Joseph was identified as the author of the Twitter feed and was fired from his position in the White House. However, the damage had already been done. The @NatSecWonk Twitter account had become well known within the Washington DC Beltway and was a source of frustration for many public officials. Joseph was a senior official within the national security staff, and to some extent, betrayed the trust of his colleagues. Fortunately, there is no evidence that he leaked sensitive national security information.

How to recover

When dealing with a rogue employee, it is critical for the organization to immediately distance itself from the employee and act decisively. Otherwise, the organization bears the risk of accepting responsibility for the employee’s actions.

The White House acted appropriately in this situation by firing Joseph and letting him take full responsibility for his actions. Joseph shutdown the Twitter account and also issued an apology stating, “It has been a privilege to serve in this Administration and I deeply regret violating the trust and confidence placed in me.” In other words, once unmasked, he understood the true consequences of what he had done.

Every organization has its own polices and rules of conduct. It is important to train employees and make them aware of what constitutes acceptable behavior. Therefore, if an employee decides to deviate from the accepted rules of conduct, all parties will understand what needs to happen.

Read the Whole Series

If you missed one of the five tweet regret blog posts you can easily read all five common Twitter mistakes and how to handle them in the complementary eBook “Twit Happens: Tweet Regret in the Public Sector”. This valuable resource is free and available now. Request your copy using the button below.

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