No Way to Keep an Errant Tweet a Secret

The Secret Service apologized Thursday after a rogue tweet from the agency's @SecretService Twitter account debased the Fox News Channel. 

The message, posted Wednesday, read, "had to monitor Fox for a story. Can't. Deal. With. The. Blathering." Though the tweet was immediately removed, it was still broadcasted to the account's 20,000 followers. 

“An employee with access to the Secret Service’s Twitter account, who mistakenly believed they were on their personal account, posted an unapproved and inappropriate tweet,” Special Agent in Charge Edwin M. Donovan said in a statement to ABC News. “The tweet did not reflect the views of the U.S. Secret Service and it was immediately removed. We apologize for this mistake, and the user no longer has access to our official account. “

The error came less than 10 days after the launch of the account, which was created to "supplement recruitment efforts while providing an informative, helpful tool to businesses and individuals who are interested in information from our agency.” 

Donovan said that “policies and practices which would have prevented this were not followed and will be reinforced for all account users. We will ensure existing policies are strictly adhered to in order to prevent this mistake from being repeated, and we are conducting appropriate internal follow-up.”

While the Secret Service quickly deleted the tweet and issued a response, the tweet spread quickly over the Web, demonstrating that companies can't hide their mistakes in social media—they can only work to prevent them. 

As more and more organizations become involved in social media, it's critical that employee guidelines and protocols be drafted and strictly adhered to.
Having specific social media policies in place with clear roles, expectations and sanctions for misbehavior will help make social media team members double-check their log-ins and consider the impact of their quickly drafted messages. That said, if even the Secret Service has trouble following its own social media policies, what chance do less buttoned-down organizations have when it comes to avoiding embarrassing blurts on Twitter and Facebook?