9 worst social media blunders of the year

Though we’re only a few months into 2016, these online PR and marketing missteps have produced headaches for the brand managers involved.

We’re only a few months into 2016, but the Internet never sleeps—and neither do social media blunders.

From Coca-Cola to MTV and online fashion publications we’d otherwise never know about, these are some of the top “online oops” so far this year:

1. Coca-Cola


It’s never a good thing to piss off the Russians. Leave it to Coca-Cola to do so right out of the gate this year after it sent out a tweet featuring a cartoon with a snow-covered map of the country.

Seems innocent enough, right? Taking a closer look, the map’s actually outdated, omitting Kaliningrad, which was annexed following World War II.

Needless to say, Russian patriots were not happy with the company, as they posted pics pouring the soft drink into toilets with the hashtag #BanCocaCola.

2. MTV Australia

Sometimes you almost wish for the company’s sake that its Twitter account was hacked.

Such was the case when MTV Australia sent out an astonishing offensive tweet, asking, “Where are the English subtitles?” while America Ferrera and Eva Longoria were on stage at the Golden Globes.

MTV didn’t need a translator to figure out an apology was in order. Still, the crowd wasn’t satisfied and another apology was issued.

3. DC Comics

Facepalm online after DC Comics posted a photo of its comic saying it was translated from Pakistan, as if it were a language. Too bad the official language is Urdu.

Users were quick to point out DC’s ignorance. It’s a good reminder to do your research.

4. Seoul Secret

In some cases, you just have to stop and wonder what the heck the company’s PR team was thinking.

Seoul Secret, a beauty brand, thought the campaign, “White makes you win” promoting skin-lightening cosmetics was a good idea.

The company sent out a tweet referring to the campaign along with a video of actress and singer Chris Horwang talking about her career and how her white skin helped her to be so successful.

It’s not a shocker that the ad wasn’t well received.

5. Total Beauty

If you fail during the Oscars, folks are going to know. Just ask Jennifer Lawrence after her fall on the Oscars stage.

However, online platforms can be just as damaging—if not more so—especially since users don’t have the chance to get back on their feet with the help of Bradley Cooper.

Total Beauty, an online publication, learned that the hard way after it somehow confused Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey in a tweet. Both are high on the list of people you should not upset.

Sorry, Total Beauty: America’s not going to fall in love with you for that one.

6. National Republican Senatorial Committee

It might be a good idea for the committee to get a new social media team—or at least a fact checker or two.

In March, the GOP sent out a tweet saying Tammy Duckworth doesn’t “stand up” for vets. Seems like the usual muck slinging that goes on during political tussles, right?

However, there’s a really big problem with this since Duckworth lost her legs—while serving in Iraq. She even came back and worked as assistant secretary in the Department of Veterans Affairs.

To make matters worse, the tweet was posted on International Women’s Day.

The NRSC owned up to the social media mistake, but not without a bit of attitude thrown in.

“It would be great if reporters would pay as much attention to a deleted tweet as they should to Tammy Duckworth being sued by VA whistleblowers for ignoring claims of mistreatment and corruption,” spokeswoman Andrea Bozek wrote in an email, according to The Washington Post.

7. Microsoft

Sometimes, science is simply better left alone.

Take, for example, the time Microsoft decided to make an “AI” Twitter bot. The creation was designed to learn from its users through conversation. Trolls made the bot, named Tay, turn into a huge racist jerk in less than a day.

As a result, Microsoft’s research team quickly deleted the tweets and put the project on pause.

8. Rhode Island Commerce

If you’re going to spend $5 million on a new promotion, it’s probably a good idea to make sure the thing that you’re promoting is in the video.

But alas, the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation some how found a way to do so after it posted a promotional video. It seems well meaning enough as viewers see pretty lighthouses and Union Station, except for when the 110-second video suddenly cuts to a strange country.

It wasn’t hard to discern the differences between Rhode Island and Iceland.

“Imagine a place that feels like home, but holds enough uniqueness that you are never bored,” a narrator says.

Confusion might have been a better word for it after folks watched the video. However, it didn’t take long for officials to realize their mistake and issue a clarification.

“As the Commerce Corporation put this presentation video together, explicit instructions were given to the local firm that helped with editing to only use Rhode Island footage,” Betsy Wall, the corporation’s chief marketing office, told The Providence Journal. “A mistake was made.”

Lucky for us, the state’s governor, Gina Raimondo, snagged a version on Twitter.

9. U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs

It’s not everyday the U.S. government inadvertently insults the very people it serves.

Still, politics doesn’t usually concern itself with “hot or not” beauty tips—as far as citizens are concerned, since people are still talking about Hillary’s wardrobe and health choices.

Never mind our nation’s political leaders and their appearances, the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs is more concerned with yours, especially if you’re traveling soon—or ugly.

In a series of tweets it sent out on March 30, it offered a bit of advice for those less fortunate in terms of levels of attraction: There’s a reason people keep buying you drinks, Felica (and it ain’t because your face is on fleek). Based on the department’s standards, not even spring break beer goggles can help a sister—or brother—out.

Essentially, if you’re not a 10 in the U.S., you’re not going to be one overseas, according to its Twitter account.

Those drinks in Thailand are cheap for a reason. That lover online is a scam. Taking a bus across the border? Hold onto your wallets. Basically, the U.S. government seems to have no faith in America’s travel skills or looks.

The tweets, sent out with #springbreakingbadly, were not well received and later deleted followed by an apology.

“Some have been offended by our earlier tweet and we apologize that it came off negatively,” part one reads.

At least there’s a silver lining from this social media mistake. The state department’s finally learned travel tip No. 1: Learn some of the local’s language before jetting off (or try to).

Lindsay Friedman is a staff writer for Entrepreneur. A version of this article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Copyright © 2016 Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.

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