Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
A 14 year old kid tries to pull an extremely stupid prank on a company.
The company reacts by publicly shaming the kid on the internet, which also leads to their arrest and further shaming in worldwide media.
Not ringing a bell? Well it happened in April of 2014. The company was American Airlines, and the kid was later identified as a young Dutch girl.
The way that American Airlines chose to handle this situation is a good example of how to suck at social media.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way: threats on Twitter are stupid
Sarah’s tweet below is worse than an epic fail, it’s just plain dumb.
Bad move, Sarah. But I think you know this by now, right?
I’m in no way condoning Sarah’s joke/threat tweet. It is wrong on so many levels even if she meant it as a joke.
However, when I compare a 14 year old’s dumb to how a fully grown American corporation handled the situation…let’s just say I expected more from the “grown-ups” at AA.
American Airlines Twitter threat reaction: Internet Shaming
Here’s AA’s tweeted response to Sarah:
American Airlines was right to take her threat very seriously, as it should do with any and all threats. They also did the right thing by forwarding her IP address and details to the FBI.
However, they should have replied privately or went to the FBI privately.
Had they gone to the authorities, the whole matter could have been cleared up outside of the public eye. Once the authorities figured out that the threat was really just a prank from a 14 year old girl, they could have handled it with the appropriate level of action.
By replying to her publicly, they shamed this young girl unnecessarily
American Airlines knows better than to do this, and as a regular customer of that airline, I expect better of them.
For posterity, here’s the rest of Sarah’s freakout after American Airlines publicly shamed her.
As each minute went on, she gained more and more followers, and of course a lot of those new followers had negative things to say to her.
This particular tweet made things even worse:
After that, it was the Twitter equivalent of a public stoning, so-to-speak.
At present, her Twitter account has been suspended.
The last known update on this situation was this:
— Politie Rotterdam eo (@Politie_Rdam) April 14, 2014
There have also been dozens of copycat threats/bomb “jokes” by people on Twitter since this incident.
So, way to go, AA. You just inspired more of these nitwits.
Also: Southwest apparently took the same tactic:
What do you think of this situation? Do you agree with American Airlines (and Southwest?)