The US Airways employee who accidentally tweeted a lewd picture from the company’s Twitter account will not be fired, according to US Airways spokesperson Matt Miller.
“It was an honest mistake,” Miller said on Tuesday.
The company had “investigated” the situation and determined that the picture was erroneously posted after a it was first tweeted at the account by a user. Then, in an attempt to flag the picture as inappropriate and notify Twitter, a US Airways employee accidentally ended up including it in its own tweet.
“It was done as part of the process to capture the tweet to flag it as inappropriate,” Miller said. “Unfortunately, the link to the image was inadvertently included in a response to a customer.”
The US Airways Twitter feed has not been updated for more than 24 hours, with the last tweet being the company’s apology for the picture.
Leila Thabet, managing director of social media agency We Are Social, said that the nature of the situation and the fact that it was clearly a mistake had allowed US Airways to sidestep major criticism. Most media seemed content to report on the situation and regard it as a warning: Social media is an important but risk-laden tool.
The lack of clear intent made the incident even easier for US Airways, unlike other social media gaffes like an attempt by Kenneth Cole to make light of the uprising in Cairo, Egypt.
“It was so bizarre that if you compare it to the Kenneth Cole, that was actually the brand getting behind a sensitive message,” Thabet said.
US Airways making public statements and refraining from publicly firing the employee in question is a positive sign, Thabet added.
The US Airways gaffe represents a brutal example, but one from which the company can recover.
“This is an example of the worst possible thing can always happen to any brand,” said Allen Adamson, managing director of brand management firm Landor Associate. “What’s critical is moving quickly, over-communicating and taking actions that will try to prevent it from reoccurring.”
Mistakes happen, he added, but noted that companies that are forgiven for one error are usually not allowed another.
“I think you get forgiven once, but maybe not twice,” he said.