Top 10 Social Media Fails of 2013

Come on, now. You knew this was coming.

Before we get started, a few points:

1. The entire PRNewser team extends our deepest sympathies to the real-life “people” involved in these incidents.

2. Comments are open, so please denigrate the nominees loudly.

3. We are very open to more (dis)honorable mentions. We wouldn’t be able to write these sorts of things without the insights of our flacky audience, so please feel free to yell at ya’ boy, girl, other girl and our editor who is not named Jason Chupick.

OK, now click through for what has already become a sad (but informative!) annual tradition…

Dishonorable Mention: HMV Fired an Intern…Who Knew the Twitter Password. HMV, otherwise known as the “home of (outdated) entertainment”, had to layoff hundreds of its staffers early this year. Much to its chagrin, a few former employees weren’t happy with the pink slip. The problem, of course, was that one of the dudes they fired also ran the company’s Twitter account. So…yeah.

We felt their pain upon watching a disgruntled minion relieve some stress by live tweeting the very HR meeting in which the firing took place and using the hashtag #hmvXFactorFiring so no one would miss a beat. In the process, we all learned that HMV’s marketing director had a limited knowledge of social media and that the Twitter account was initially established by an unpaid intern. Revealing!

MEMO to Brands Everywhere: Develop a system that requires two people to enter identical passwords at once. Or just make sure you know exactly who has access to your Twitter feed at any given time, and don’t leave it in the hands of any single, potentially angry employee.

Now for the real list:

10. Burger King Got Big Mac’d on Twitter. This little incident may not be the reason that brands no longer use “PASSWORD123” for top accounts, but in answering our own question we can say that it definitely wasn’t a PR Win when some whimsical hack found his way into the fast food feed and made the following funnies:

Changed its avatar and handle name:

Relocated a few locations to stereotypical and questionable parts of society:


…and then went way overboard with this unfortunate picture:

This isn’t exactly “brand messaging,” but apparently everyone was just a little too busy at Burger King to notice because it took them more than half a day to correct the mess. BK certainly dropped the ball when it came to “paying attention” and allowed the hacker to have it his way (see what we did there), but the chain’s biggest competitor did offer an olive branch. Sort of.

9. The Economy Finally Got the Best of Nokia New Zealand. If you follow mobile phone sales, you know the King of the Mobile Mountain used to be Nokia (emphasis on used to be) before the company experienced rounds and rounds and rounds of layoffs due to poor sales and a couple of things called “iPhones” and “Androids”. Certain employees are sick and tired of being sick and tired, and that pressure led to this fun-but-NSFW message.

Advantage: Pressure. Cue David Bowie and Queen

8. JP Morgan’s Vice Chair Felt the Wrath of…Everyone. Here’s your shining of example of either a really bad case of arrogance or a bunch of C-suite suits cursed with head-in-ass disease. In a display of misguided narcissism, JP Morgan thought it would be a grandiose idea for its Vice Chair to have a #twitchat. A rabid gang of rioters met the Chase crowd armed with flaming torches and rusty pitchforks:

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