Bill Hartzer

The 5 Most Scandalous Social Media Fails of 2013

It’s a new year, a time to start off with a clean slate. Unfortunately for some, that could take awhile. Let’s wrap up 2013 with some of the worst social media fails so that you have an idea of just how easy it is for a slip-up to go viral.

Because it only takes one mistake to mess up your online reputation, exercise caution in how you express yourself on the social media front. Look for examples by following the Facebook or Twitter accounts of companies such as, or Facebook’s Security page that offer suggestions for maintaining your online presence.

1) Rob Ford Gets (In)Famous!

The Toronto mayor who’s a little out of his mind (blame it on the crack) has also gone viral. After admitting to drug use when he was outed by Toronto police at a press conference last October, multiple videos of Ford’s crude, drunk and generally sloppy nature popped up all over the Internet. YouTube videos of him have gone viral, he’s had millions of Twitter views, and he’s even became a sketch on SNL. Despite all this not-so-favorable media attention, he’s put his name on the ballot to run for re-election. Well, Mr. Ford, unlike many of your political counterparts, at least you can say you’re honest.

2) It’s Not Over Til The Fat Elephant Sings

The 58th anniversary of Rosa Parks’ arrest prompted the Republican National Committee to triumphantly declare that racism is has ended. So it’s no surprise that Twitter followers were unsurprisingly incensed. A few hours later the RNC attempted damage control a few hours later with a very benign response: “Previous tweet should have read ‘Today we remember Rosa Parks’ bold stand and her role in fighting to end racism.’”

3) Twerking Girl Catches on Fire… But We’re the Ones Who Got Burned

In a YouTube performance that could have used some tips from Miley Cyrus, an amateur catches fire attempting to twerk at home. It went viral, with 15 million current YouTube views and several television news broadcasts. But when the star of the video was interviewed on Jimmy Kimmel Live, the video was replayed—this time showing Kimmel walk into the room after the girl catches fire. Turns out, she was a professional stunt double. “To the conspiracy theorists on the Internet who thought the video was fake: You were right it was fake,” said Kimmel. This hoax wasn’t so much a fail for the twerker as it was for gullible media outlets and viewers who delight in watching people catch fire.

4) British Gas Q&A Fuels Outrage

After announcing that their energy prices would rise by 10.4 percent, British Gas decided to host an hour-long Twitter Q&A, hosted by their Customer Service Director. Their intention was to facilitate a real-time discussion between the company and inquiring customers. They certainly received inquiries, but not the kind they had intended. Here’s a taste of what they received: “Hi Bert, which items of furniture do you, in your humble opinion, think people should burn first this winter?” And that was the PG version.

5) Selfies at Funerals

Just when you thought social media had gone too far, well, it went to the grave. While the “Selfies at Funerals” tumblr sounds crass and somewhat disturbing, a quick scroll-through reveals it as yet another tumblr of duck faces and awkward postures. One post reads, “Cried off all my makeup, So ew. But funeral.” It’s hard to determine what’s more horrifying: users uploading selfies on a day of mourning, or that they’re wearing miniskirts (and colored shirts, no less!) to a funeral.

Funny enough, what saved this tumblr from falling into obscurity was the fateful day at Nelson Mandela’s funeral that President Obama cozied up to two other heads of state for a three-way selfie. Of course international political figures can have fun. Who (besides Mrs. Obama) wouldn’t want a picture with Danish prime minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt? It’s just unfortunate that the whole world was watching.

Don’t Be One of “Those Guys”

No matter what happened to you in 2013, chances are you didn’t fare as poorly as these social media failures. Who knows what kind of social media faux pas we’ll see in the new year, but hopefully they’ll be as entertaining as these five blunders!

Nora Alford is a web developer by day and a social media guru by night (or when she’s not at work). She loves the connections social networking provides, and she is happy to share her knowledge with other curious minds.

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