As a social media editor, it's my worst nightmare: A live-tweeting situation, where companies and publications try to be cool and relatable and still totally on-brand, goes horribly awry with one or two ill-thought-out tweets. It happens. It just usually doesn't happen when you have 5.7 million followers.
Last night's epic block of Shonda Rhimes geniusness (#TGIT, of course) was must-watch TV for many, and @Peoplemag decided to get in on the fun. However, whoever was at the helm threw in a few weirdly racial tweets.
Uh oh. The poster then powered right on into the next hour with:
"Waiting for Viola to break into "You is kind. You is smart. You is important." #HowToGetAwayWithMurder" one read, at 9:43 p.m.
Their @ replies were understandably unanimous: So if straight hair on a black lady means business, natural hair means...what? And while Davis is certainly known for her role in The Help, is it really necessary to bust out that quote during a show that has absolutely nothing to do with slavery?
Let's sum this up real quick: Black female hair and slavery are usually not two things you want to evoke so flippantly, especially with flimsy context and, oh, to millions of people. You know that. I know that. Someone at People knew that, because the tweets have since been deleted.
The next question was, should People issue an apology? When the DiGiorno pizza Twitter handle accidentally hijacked a domestic violence hashtag, they were so contrite I'm surprised they didn't send every follower a free deep dish. Early Friday morning, People issued a pretty legit tweet addressing the situation.
Apologies for the earlier tweet. We love HTGAWM & The Help, where that quote was from. But it was stupid & insensitive. Won't happen again.— People magazine (@peoplemag) September 26, 2014
This could be a larger conversation about when companies try and prove they are just people like their viewers and consumers. But for right now, it's just about one person, some unfortunate, misguided soul behind the "publish" button who's probably getting an earful over at People headquarters today.
Lesson learned, hopefully.
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