'Unauthorized user' posted obscene tweet, Vaughan says
Published Friday, February 8, 2013 9:32AM EST
Last Updated Friday, February 8, 2013 3:12PM EST
Public officials in Vaughan say an "unauthorized user" is the person who posted an obscene tweet that prompted the city to temporarily suspend its official Twitter account Friday.
In a statement, the city said it has contacted Twitter "and is awaiting a response to determine if this unauthorized access can be further investigated."
As GTA residents made a long, torturous commute in a major winter storm Friday morning, the person vented their frustration with a one-tweet rant about cars that were parked on snow-packed residential streets.
“Everyone on my street has double gararges (sic)...who are these f---nuts who don't put their car in the garage when we get 2 feet of snow? #dumb,” said the tweet before it was deleted 90 minutes after it was shared on the micro-blogging website at 7:23 a.m.
The incident left public officials red-faced as they issued a public apology for the tweet and promised an investigation to find out who sent the message to the city's 1,400 followers.
"Right now, we're investigating all possibilities, including the possibility that (the account) was hacked," Gary Williams, Vaughan's director of corporate communications, said earlier in the day. "We apologize to all of our followers for the inappropriate tweet. We're taking it very seriously."
Williams said the account is overseen by Vaughan's corporate communications department and only two people have access to it.
Williams, who has the username and password, said he did not send the tweet.
The city has rules for employees' use of websites such as Twitter and Facebook, and all employees are given a copy of a social media policy, Williams said.
City Coun. Alan Shefman said he doesn't think the tweet was sent by a Vaughan employee.
"I would really, really doubt it because the number of people who have access to the passwords is so limited and the people who have access are very responsible," Shefman said.
Twitter users pounce on tweet
Before it was erased, the message was retweeted more than 135 times and became a mini-viral sensation.
Some Twitter users were mostly speechless.
“Wow!” tweeted Jennifer.
A user by the name of Eating Niagara couldn’t muster a single word: “erm…”
Others saw the moment as a shot at comedy gold.
“Step up your game, other cities,” J.R. Lind tweeted.
But not everyone was chuckling at the apparent slip-up.
“nice representation of the city, y’all,” tweeted Crystal Gibson.
“umm I think they might need some social media help over in Vaughan...,” Tamika Auwai wrote to her followers.
Memorable Twitter gaffes
This kind of incident has happened to governments or companies in the past as employees juggle their personal and work accounts on a single software platform such as TweetDeck or HootSuite.
There have been several examples where unauthorized users have gained access or an employee of a company has mistakenly sent a personal message from a work feed.
Online, the Vaughan incident has drawn comparisons to some of those memorable Twitter gaffes, which serve as cautionary tales for governments, corporations and organizations.
In March 2011, an employee was fired after a traffic outburst was posted on one of Chrysler’s official Twitter accounts.
The tweet read: “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to f---ing drive.”
A month before that, a tweet about drinking beer was accidentally posted on the American Red Cross’ feed, instead of an employee’s personal account.
The tweet read: “Ryan found two more 4 bottle packs of Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch beer…. when we drink we do it right #gettngslizzerd.”
In response, the American Red Cross handled the matter with a bit of fun, tweeting: “We've deleted the rogue tweet but rest assured the Red Cross is sober and we've confiscated the keys.”
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