The top 10 social media fails of 2013

The worst mistakes committed by companies, celebs and politicians and what we learnt from them

LAST UPDATED AT 10:30 ON Tue 24 Dec 2013

10. Fail: Interns go rogue on HMV Twitter account When HMV entered administration in January, the company reportedly fired over 60 members of staff in one day.  This didn't go down too well with the furious interns who took over HMV's official Twitter account in protest, fearing their jobs would be next. The interns, with nothing to lose, fired off a stream of tweets criticising the company. It took a highly embarrassing few hours for the company to regain control of their account and delete the tweets.

9. Fail: Burger King's twitter account gets hacked In February, the official Burger King Twitter account fell victim to hackers. They changed the account's image and handle to McDonalds and sent a bizarre mixture of tweets about employees' drug habits and chicken McNuggets. McDonalds quickly denied any involvement in the incident. Twitter reacted gleefully and the account gained thousands of new followers, with one user tweeting: "Somebody needs to tell Burger king that 'whopper123' isn't a secure password."

8. Fail: Luton airport makes light of child's death In March, Luton Airport posted a picture of a plane crash on their official Facebook page, with the caption "Because we are such a super airport, this is what we prevent you from when it snows. Weeeeee :)" Facebook users failed to see the funny side when it was revealed that the crash in question killed a six-year-old boy in 2005 when a plane slid off a runway in Chicago.
A spokesperson for the airport quickly apologised and blamed a new, ‘over-enthusiastic' employee for making the ‘honest, but misguided mistake'.

7. Fail: Epicurious tries to capitalise on Boston Bombing After the Boston bombings in April, American food and drink brand Epicurious provoked a huge Twitter outcry for posting a tweet which implied that its cereal brand would help people deal with the shock of the tragedy. People accused the company of trying to capitalise on the attack which killed three people and seriously injured hundreds.

6. Fail: Godfrey Bloom's mistaken identity tweet In perhaps one of the tamer incidents involving the gaffe-prone Ukip MEP who previously called female activists ‘sluts' and Africa ‘bongo-bongo land', Godfrey managed to confuse two Channel 4 journalists on Twitter. He tweeted a critique about how he had been interviewed by Krishnan Guru-Murthy, but instead included Faisal Islam's handle. One user responded by asking Godfrey:  "do all brown people look the same to you?"

5. Fail: British gas Q&A backfires In October, British Gas announced a 10.4 per cent rise in their energy prices. They then decided it would be a good idea to host an hour-long live Twitter Q&A with their Customer Service Director on the same day. The idea was to provide a platform for customers who had genuine queries about the price hike. Unfortunately for British Gas, it didn't quite go according to plan as angry customers took over the #AskBG hashtag with jokes and insults.

4. Fail: Peaches Geldof victim reveal In November, Peaches Geldof broke a court order by tweeting the names of the victims' mothers in the Ian Watkins abuse case. She said the mothers deserved to be ‘named and shamed' for their role in the abuse. Despite the fact that hundreds of her followers quickly pointed out that what she had tweeted was illegal as it meant the victims could be identified, Geldof remained defiant and refused to delete her tweet until hours later. She later apologised.  

3. Fail: The RNC declare racism ‘over'. In December, the Republican National Committee used the anniversary of Rosa Parks' arrest to boldly declare that the fight against racism had ended. One user responded: "Guys, there's a bunch of white dudes say racism is over. Time to go home!  The fight is over."

2. Fail: NHS trivialises domestic violence The NHS recently caused uproar on Twitter by tweeting a link to an article which many campaigners felt trivialised domestic violence. The article offered ‘simple tips' to avoid ‘festive feuds.' These included consuming less alcohol and planning a variety of activities to keep the family busy.

Critics felt it displayed an offensive ‘victim blaming attitude' and called on the NHS to delete the tweets and apologise, which they duly did. Be SexPositive, a sexual health charity offered the only ‘simple tip' to avoid domestic violence:

1. Fail of the year: Selfies at funerals 2013 was quite a year for the Oxford English Dictionary's most popular word, with everyone from world leaders, the Pope and Prince Charles getting in on the amateur-selfie action. But even the most innocent of trends can soon turn cringeworthy – as this one did with the emergence of ‘selfies at funerals'. Back in October, the Selfies at Funerals Tumblr account hit the mainstream news by documenting dozens of self-snapped funeral photos, including one appearing to show the coffin of a mourner's dead grandmother in the background. Then, at Nelson Mandela's memorial service, the Danish prime minister, President Obama and David Cameron got in on the act with the ultimate funeral selfie. "Our work here is done," said the blog that identified the phenomenon.


For further concise, balanced comment and analysis on the week's news, try The Week magazine. Subscribe today and get 6 issues completely free.