So somehow, US Airways' official Twitter account tweeted a picture of a nude woman with a toy airplane inserted into her vagina. The list of things that would be worse to tweet is short enough that we feel comfortable awarding the airline All-Time First Place Victor in Worst Corporate Social Media #Brand Strategy. Congratulations to all involved, especially the soon-to-be-out-of-work tweeter behind the unfortunate image who now has something for his résumé.
You can see the tweet at right. It has now been deleted — eventually, after sitting on the airline's Twitter page for an hour. You know that little box that shows a Twitter profile's recent "Photos and videos"? That box for US Airways used to be a bit spicier, showing a bit more than plane interiors (so to speak). Incidentally, we've cropped the image to ensure that you are not fired from your job; if you would like to see the whole thing, just click on it.
Twitter detectives, including those at Deadspin, quickly tracked the image back to its origin, a Twitter user named ARTxDEALER. "WTF ONE OF YOUR PLAINES JUST CRASHED INTO MY," um, personal area, that tweet read. It seems as though maybe someone from US Airways had cut-and-pasted the link to that image and, instead of linking to the airline's customer service page, instead pasted the link to the image in a tweet. Luckily, people couldn't easily reach the customer service page to complain.
You'll forgive our being a little prudish about this whole thing, but that's kind of the point, right? I mean, a graphic image of an airplane jammed into a woman's genitalia is on the outside margins of how completely terribly you could mess up. Sitting here, I've thought of a few things that would be less appropriate, but then I think, are they? I am not going to mention what those might be; you can imagine them. But consider that every person who visited the US Airways Twitter page was treated to a photograph of an occupied vagina for at least an hour. That's worse than a tweet that was only text. (Me to my editor: "What do you want to do for art on this [article]?" Her: "Crop it, above the crotch.")
The timing was particularly amusing since it overlapped with the announcement of the Pulitzer Prize winners. Guess which people wanted to talk about more?
US Airways — remarkably slowly! — deleted the tweet, offering an apology and pledging to "investigate" the incident.
Well, Malaysia Airlines is no longer the worlds most talked about airline. So there's that.— Hilary Sargent (@lilsarg) April 14, 2014
Update, 4:45 p.m.: US Airways issued a statement to Business Insider.
We apologize for the inappropriate image we recently shared in a Twitter response. Our investigation has determined that the image was initially posted to our Twitter feed by another user. We captured the tweet to flag it as inappropriate. Unfortunately the image was inadvertently included in a response to a customer. We immediately realized the error and removed our tweet. We deeply regret the mistake and we are currently reviewing our processes to prevent such errors in the future.
Not sure "immediately" is a fair description.