15 Epic Social Media Fails

Ever pressed 'publish' 'post' or 'Tweet' and then immediately regretted it? Perhaps you noticed a typo or misspelling? Or realised your words were actually a bit cringe-worthy, or even offensive? You might want to spare a thought for these 15 poor souls.

June 20, 2023

We all make mistakes. We're only human.

Usually, we deal with them, learn from them and then move on.

They're soon forgotten.

Terrifyingly, the internet (and more specifically social media) never forgets.

The moment you press "Tweet," "Publish" or "Post" you're releasing your thoughts, feelings and opinions (or those of your brand) into the public eye forever.

And there really is such a thing as bad publicity - something that the 15 poor people and businesses who made the terrible social media fails on our list found out the hard way.

1. The Onion

The Onion: 'America's Finest News Source.'

They must know a thing or two about publicity then... right?

Picking on a 9 year old child isn't nice at the best of times, but dropping the C-bomb... really?

At least they said sorry - that makes it all better.

Check out the full story here.

2. Amy's Baking Company Bakery Boutique and Bistro

Bit of background: Amy's Baking Co featured on Gordon Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares (one of my guilty pleasures) in May 2013 and were the first restaurateurs ever to get 'abandoned' for being 'too difficult.'

One evening, after receiving a barrage of abuse on their Facebook page, they'd clearly had enough...

Ouch! And it doesn't end there.

The tirade goes on...

And on...

And on...

Check out the entire feed here.

3. London Luton Airport

No one really knows what London Luton Airport's social media team were thinking when they posted this photo with it's shockingly triumphant caption.

I can only assume that they were clueless to the fact that six-year-old, Joshua Woods, tragically died in the Chicago plane crash they're ridiculing.

Read the entire damning story here.

4. Connor Riley

How many times have we warned you? Social media will sabotage your job search!

We come across awful LinkedIn accounts and ridiculous Facebook fails all the time.

But you really have got to be silly to ruin your chances on Twitter; with only got 140 characters to play with... what could go wrong?

Recruiter Pro Tip

You already know this.

Don't badmouth your past, future or current employers on social media. Ever.

It WILL come back to bite you on the arse.

Interestingly, Connor Riley turns out to be a woman.

She was also interviewed by NBC News if you're interested in what makes her tick.

5. Anonymous (sort of)

Have you got a horrible boss?

Perhaps you are a horrible boss?

Either way... you wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of this Facebook post!

It's one thing to share on social media, but to badmouth your boss, for all - including him - to see?

Just another reason NOT to add your co-workers and superiors on Facebook.

Intrigued by this story? This Daily Mail article reveals all.

6. American Airways

I do see the value in "automated marketing;" you send me a message and PING you get an automatic reply.

In fact, here's a prime example...

...wait, what?

American Air set up a robo-tweet-bot to automatically thank followers who offered their "support" via Twitter.

Things didn't quite go to plan because of a little thing called sarcasm.

Mark Murphy clearly was not a happy bunny, but received a lovely, friendly reply thanking him for his support anyway!

7. Transport for London

Transport companies just don't seem to fare well on social media.

And TFL added fuel to the fire with this sarcastic little jibe...

(They’ve got a point…)

The public didn’t see the funny side though and an online backlash soon erupted.

I'm on TFL's side! Be smart. Be proactive and get to work on time.

Check out the full story here.

8. Justine Sacco

You might just recognise this terrible tweet from Justine Sacco...

(In fact, it's so terrible that I've mentioned it before.)

I'm genuinely sure that Justine meant no offence - but there's a fine line between controversial and downright ignorant - and she crossed it.

As a PR 'expert', she really should have known better.

This article from The New York Times Magazine investigates the aftermath of the whole incident.

9. Susan Boyle

Ever wondered what on earth happened to Susan Boyle?

THIS is what happened...

Someone definitely got sacked for this terrible hashtag error.

Anyone up for #analbumparty this weekend?

10. HMV

Note to all managers out there: if you do manage to disgruntle your staff, it might be a good idea to disable all social media accounts, beforehand.

Ever wondered why some employers are ruthless when it comes to deleting accounts, changing passwords and re-setting door codes/alarms when someone leaves (on good or bad terms)?

Here's your answer...

Soon-to-be-sacked HMV employees took to Twitter "to vent their anger and 'tweet live from HR,'" filling the whole world in on what was going on in their office.

The resulting feed is pretty brutal.

11. Epicurious

Epicurious are a digital brand for people who are interested in cooking. Basically.

They found themselves in hot water in April 2013 though, after posting two incredibly insensitive Tweets, attempting to capitalise on the Boston Bombings.

Like our friends at London Luton Airport, Epicurious clearly don't understand boundaries and/or bad taste.

I'm sure you can imagine the response they received and, shockingly, they were forced to make a public apology.

Find out more, here.

12. Anthony Noto

Do you find Twitter confusing?

I'll admit it; I do sometimes.

Would it make you feel better to know that their very own CFO struggles from time to time too?

If Noto was hoping to keep his cards close to his chest with this (not-so) "private" message, he failed miserably.

Want to read more about Noto's cock-up? Click here to get the full story!

13. Rio Ferdinand

If you become a famous footballer, you're going to have a grow a thick skin against criticism and abuse from the public.

It's not right... it just is.

Rio Ferdinand clearly didn't get the memo and was left humiliated after tweeting this to someone who dared to tarnish his name!

He was also charged with misconduct, fined £25,000 and banned for 3 matches.

May seem a bit harsh for what appears to be a silly, albeit thoughtless, retaliation - but Ferdinand is supposed to be a role model after all.

Tut-tut. Read the full story here.

14. Rita Ora

What's that saying about pride?

Something like... beware of the pride before a fall?

In possibly the most cringe-worthy social media fail of the entire blog, Rita Ora fell flat on her face with this Tweet...

...which only attracted 2,000 of her '100,000' target retweets.

So how do you come back from an ego-bruising incident like this?

Blame it on hackers of course.


Cringing? Check out BuzzFeed's version of events in this article (if you can hack it).

15. iPhone

Yup - even the techno-giants can get it wrong occasionally.

This unfortunate Facebook post, with a corresponding Instagram one, certainly got some attention... for the wrong reasons.

The problem?

Joan Rivers had sadly passed away two weeks before the posts went live.

Celebrity endorsements from beyond the grave... it's certainly a new concept.

Read the whole mysterious story here.

No LinkedIn?

You've probably noticed that all of these terrible social media fails come from Twitter and Facebook.

So does nobody ever mess up on LinkedIn?

It's true, as it's a professional network, most people do tend to behave themselves more on LinkedIn.

In fact, rarely will you find photos and posts about drunken debauchery and unashamed airing of dirty laundry... emphasis on rarely.

In fact, we've devoted an entire blog to this very topic: 33 Of The Most Cringeworthy LinkedIn Blunders You'll Ever See.


Feeling guilty?

Do you enjoy revelling in the misfortune of others... just a little bit?

It's OK, there's no need to feel bad. We all make mistakes.

Recruiter Pro Tip (for Hiring Managers). Social media sites, particularly LinkedIn, can reveal an awful lot about your potential new employee/s. In fact, 93% of recruiters use them to screen candidates, both passive and active (so there must be something to it)! To find out more, check out our blog: The 8 Crucial Benefits of Social Media Recruiting.

To discover more silly and stupid gaffes (both online and offline) check out this cringe-worthy blog of the 15 most hilarious employee fails ever!

Or, if you'd like to read regular confessions, stories and complete cock-ups, then subscribe to our blog here!

Happy Friday!

Coburg Banks - Multi-Sector Recruitment Agency
We help great people get brilliant jobs in top companies.