The 11 Worst Social Media Fails in Politics

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The 11 Worst Social Media Fails in Politics


social media fails eric tung

This is a guest post from our friend, and social media thought leader, Eric. T. Tung. Eric is the Social Media Manager at BMC Software, and well-known blogger and speaker.  According to Forbes, Eric has the #1 most influential social network, and he’s one of the most followed people on Twitter in Houston

You might get a chuckle when one of your friends mistypes a status update or sends an unintentionally funny tweet. There are dozens of websites dedicated to these types of posts, but politicians and political candidates are immune right? They have staff, campaign managers and communications departments to ensure than only well-polished messages are released, right? Wrong.

Here’s a list of some of the worst political social media fails within recent memory.

11. Jason Neo

Aspiring Thai politician Jason Neo posts a racist photo caption, charged with a criminal offense and resigns. In the US, it’s a criminal offense to threaten the President, in Germany it’s illegal to deny the Holocaust, and in Thailand, it’s illegal to make racist remarks. Jason Neo posted a photo of a bus filled with Malay preschool students with a caption, “bus filled with young terrorist trainees?” Although he deleted the post and apologized, the damage was done and he resigned from the party.

social media fails neo jason

10. John Fleming

Louisiana Congressman, John Fleming posted a link to an Onion article about a fictional Planned Parenthood “Abortionplex.” It appears that the Congressman didn’t understand the satire and the post was quickly deleted from the page. A spokesman from the congressman’s office confirmed the post had been deleted, but had no further comment.

social media fails congressman

9. Greg Abbott

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott underestimates affinity for Governor Rick Perry. When Governor Perry announced he was not running for a fourth term earlier this year, Texas Attorney Greg Abbott invited Facebook fans to thank the Governor for his service. The vast majority of comments were posted thanking Perry for not running for another term or other insults.

social media fails greg abbott

8. Chuck Grassley

Chuck Grassley Forgets How To Use English. The Iowa Senator has been on Twitter connecting with constituents since 2007, but in 2012, he posted a string of puzzling tweets. Here are just a few: (yes, each set of quotes indicates a separate tweet) “@,” “Ûü,” “N,” “#,” “#,” “#,” (yes, he tweeted a number-sign three times), “If,” “u,” “@ChuckGrassley,” “@ChuckGrassley,” “@ChuckGrassley” (mentioning only himself in three separate tweets), as well as a string of criticism of the History Channel and other undecipherable tweets.

7. DJ Bettencourt

New Hampshire House Majority Leader, DJ Bettencourt calls a Catholic Bishop a “Pedophile Pimp” on Facebook. After Bishop John McCormack spoke in criticism of the New Hampshire state budget, Majority Leader Bettencourt took to Facebook. Even after calls from the Governor and the Catholic Church for Bettencourt to retract his statements, he said in a statement, “Yes, my language was colorful but I stand by the sentiment in describing a man who has in my opinion brought shame and dishonor on my church.”

social media fails dj

6. Stuart MacLennan

Scottish Labor Party employee Stuart MacLennan tweets offensive remarks. Don’t think that political social media flubs are uniquely American. Across the pond, UK political staffer Stuart MacLennan referred to elderly constituents as “coffin dodgers” and joked about slavery. The party asked that MacLennan step down, and he resigned from the race.

social media fails stuart maclennan

5. Alan Saldanha

Surrey, British Columbia, Canada politician Alan Saldanha drops out of race after rape comment on Facebook page. Thought that Canadians were all nice people? Mr. Saldanha might be the only one that’s not. He listed his favorite quote on Facebook as, “If rape is inevitable, lie back and enjoy it!” After calls from the party to resign, he resigned from the Green Party within hours.

social media fails alan

4. Chris Christie

76-Year old New Jersey lawmaker blogged about collecting a pension and paycheck, Governor Chris Christie said someone should “take a bat” to the widow. After Democratic Senator Loretta Weinberg reported that her financial advisor had invested all of her savings with Bernie Madoff, one of her friends told her she might qualify for her pension. Governor Christie responded by suggesting some mob retribution for the lawmaker.

social media fails christie

3. Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich Buys Twitter Followers.  At one point in the 2012 Presidential Election, Newt Gingrich said, “I have six times as many Twitter followers as all the other candidates combined.” A campaign staffer admitted to hiring a firm to have fake Twitter followers follow Newt, according to a Gawker article. Another update said that not all of Newt’s followers are fake, only 92% of them.

social media fails newt

2. Congressman Anthony Weiner

Congressman Anthony Weiner takes pictures of his.. well, weiner. Congressman Anthony Weiner announced in June, 2011 that he would resign after he accidentally tweeted a lewd photo when he meant to send it as a direct message. Initially, Weiner claimed his account had been hacked, but eventually took responsibility for the photo. Calls for his resignation came as high as the President himself. The scandal was gold for late-night television and was dubbed Weinergate.

1. Mayoral Candidate Anthony Weiner

New York City Mayoral Candidate Anthony Weiner outed for texting images of his (wait for it….yes, again… here it comes…), weiner. In a second round of jokes that write themselves, New York City Mayoral Candidate Weiner admitted to sexting under the alias, “Carlos Danger.” He lost 20 points and trailed City Council Speaker Christine Quinn 25 to 16 percent. Weiner’s campaign manager quit within two days, but Weiner said he would stay in.

social media fails weiner

The postings in this blog belong to Eric T. Tung solely and do not necessarily represent the opinions or positions of BMC Software. For more insights from Eric, follow him on Twitter or check out his blog.

What are some of the worst social media fails you’ve seen? Share them in the comments.

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