Social media fail: US Airways sorry for Twitter porn blunder

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In April 2014, US Airways had to apologise after a pornographic photo was sent from its official Twitter account in response to a customer complaint. This case study looks at the fallout from the offending tweet and looks at the dangers of hastily (and unchecked) public social media responses.

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The airline said in a statement that it was trying to flag the image as inappropriate but instead mistakenly included it in a message.

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The tweet was deleted roughly an hour after being posted but not before it had been retweeted hundreds of times.

The airline said it regretted the error and was reviewing its processes.

The image, which featured a naked woman and a toy plane, had originally been sent to the company's Twitter account by another user, it said.

It was then attached to a tweet that was sent to a US Airways customer who had taken to the social network to express her frustration that her flight was delayed.

Once the mistake had been realised US Airways deleted the offending tweet and issued an apology.

"We apologise for an inappropriate image recently shared as a link in one of our responses. We've removed the tweet and are investigating," it said on its Twitter feed.

The company has more than 420,000 followers on its Twitter account and has not tweeted since.

The event became huge news on Twitter, spawning a series of jokes and even out-performing the Pulitzer Prize awards for social media coverage, as this tweet shows:

Here's a round-up of the best Twitter responses:

Terrorism controversy

US Airways is merged with American Airlines, who were also caught up in a Twitter controversy on Monday after a 14-year old Dutch girl sent a tweet to the airline implying she was part of al-Qaeda group and planning an attack.

The girl, who lives in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, has been visited by police at her home.

It follows an incident on Sunday where she posted a bogus tweet claiming to be a terrorist.

American Airlines responded with a tweeted: ‘Sarah, we take these threats very seriously. Your IP address and details will be forwarded to security and the FBI.’

What then followed was a series of panicked tweets from the girl to American Airlines begging for forgiveness.

In one subsequent tweet, ‘Sarah’ added: ‘I always wanted to be famous, but I meant Demi Lovato famous, not Osama bin Laden famous.’

Her Twitter account has since been deleted, as has the tweet from American Airlines.

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