Despite the fact that we are nearly done with the year 2013, there are still some companies that A) think that social media is a thing very few people pay attention to and B) are content to hire teenage interns and/or burgeoning sociopaths to maintain their online presence.
#5. Biology Online Asks a Blogger if She's an "Urban Whore"
Danielle Lee, a biologist who blogs under the handle the Urban Scientist for Scientific American, received an email last month from Biology Online, a science website offering her the irresistible opportunity to write things for them for free. When Lee politely declined, citing that she (like most people) really needs to get paid in exchange for her work, Biology Online oh-so-professionally responded by calling her a whore.
Not an exaggeration. That is literally what they said.
After enduring an entirely deserved public backlash over their baffling decision to hire a man with the tactful wit of a cruise ship comedian and put him in charge of emailing potential contributors, Biology Online fired the offending editor and apologized to Lee.
#4. Newspaper Makes Racist Tweet for Lottery Winner
When Georgia resident Willie Lynch won the $1 million state lottery last month, one staffer at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution with entirely too much access to the newspaper's official Twitter account decided to transport us all 150 years into the past and joyously remind us of a time when people bought and sold human beings like iPod accessories:
"Why buy a mule when I see a perfectly fine jackass right here?"
That hilarious joke, which is a reference to a Civil War-era policy that gave freed slaves 40 acres of land and a mule to till it with as a sort of apology prize package to make up for hundreds of years of horrific civil rights abuses, was quickly deleted by someone who clearly should've been the only one with AJC's Twitter password.
According to the paper's apology, "appropriate disciplinary action" would be taken with the individuals involved. Again, this is over a single offensive tweet, an incident that could have been avoided if AJC's social media staff hiring process was more involved than showing applicants a picture of a laptop and a polar bear and asking them to correctly identify which one can connect to the Internet.
#3. NFL Mascot Posts Suicide Joke Because of His Team's Bad Season
The Atlanta Falcons' mascot, Freddie Falcon, recently took part in a walk sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, because nothing makes people realize the joy of being alive quite like giant animal costumes. When the walk was done, Freddie sent out the following tweet:
"Just kidding, our dogs have a lot of fight left in them. #FalconsDogFight"
The outrage over Freddie's suicide joke was so bad that the foundation itself issued an apology for it. This leads us to wonder why in the crimson poo-streaks the clown school graduate inside the Freddie Falcon costume would also be placed in charge of the character's Twitter account when no part of a mascot's traditional daily duties requires them to speak.
#2. Fire Department Uses Emergency Alert to Announce Pancakes
Last month, the Palo Alto Fire Department decided to use the city's emergency alert notification system, which instantly sends out a text to all the city's residents to warn them of impending disasters such as earthquakes and wildfires, to announce their Community Pancake Breakfast, an event that generally experiences far fewer casualties.
"ALERT: THE PANCAKES WILL BE DANGEROUSLY DELICIOUS."
So, 27,000 Palo Alto residents received a high-priority alert about free pancakes. This is sort of like the government using the Emergency Broadcast System to let everyone know that a new set of Star Wars stamps is now available at their local post office.
#1. Home Depot Asks Twitter to Differentiate Between Monkeys and African-Americans
In an effort to promote their HDGameDay event, the social media marketing wizard in charge of Home Depot's official Twitter account shot this blazing tweet into the ether, challenging millions of people to try to tell the difference between two black guys and a person in a gorilla suit:
"More saving. More doing. Less thinking. The Home Depot."
In addition to being one of the most racist things ever, the reference doesn't appear to have anything to do with college football or home improvement. Realizing the impending disaster, Home Depot quickly deleted the tweet and proceeded to individually apologize to everyone on Twitter, including Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, who had yet to even comment on the tweet. Evidently Home Depot is under the impression that the reverends Sharpton and Jackson have a direct Witch Mountain mind link to every black person in America.
That's actually almost more racist.
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