Social Media

After Ted Cruz: The 9 Funniest #Twitterfails (and What They Teach Us)

Philip Bates 25-09-2017

We all have bad days. We all mess up and do something stupid. We all get angry and rant about someone or something. A joke backfires, or you don’t realize a colleague’s listening in.

Twitter has a lot going for it 7 Reasons Why You Should Be Using Twitter Twitter has now been with us for seven years and counting. This was seven years to the day since Jack Dorsey sent out the first tweet in 2006, at a time when the micro-blogging social... Read More , but on the flipside, your mistakes can land you in some serious hot water. Individuals are often forgiving. Society, as expressed through social media, simply isn’t The Negative Impact Of Social Networking Sites On Society [Opinion] I have accounts on several social networking sites, and spend far too long on them writing my own updates and reading the updates of others. I enjoy doing so, being able to interact with friends,... Read More .

Here are some of the best gaffes people have made on Twitter, and how we can learn from their follies.


Is there anything more cringe-inducing than a politician trying to act normal? Actually, yes…

1. Cruz Cuts to the Chase

You’d think this would be the biggest social media goof of 2017 so far.

Senator Ted Cruz allegedly liked a two-minute adult video, posted by @SexuallPosts. The clip showed up at the top of his feed and was seen first by over three million followers, and since then, everyone who uses the internet.

Suffice to say, Cruz was quick to blame an inadvertent staffing issue, understatedly calling it a mistake. It certainly was. Cory Chase, the adult star involved in the video, had hoped the Texas Senator enjoyed the video (if indeed it were him who liked it) but criticized Cruz’s attempted restrictions on the adult entertainment industry How Online Porn is the Ultimate Privacy Nightmare Read More .

@SexuallPosts has since changed its description to Follow for the Same P*rn @TedCruz Watches” and added a hilarious cover photo.

The lesson to be learned: Recognize that Twitter How to Use Twitter Twitter can be overwhelming at first, but we're here to help you make sense of it. Here's a complete guide to using Twitter and understanding how it works. Read More changed its algorithm. Before, what you liked would show up only when searching someone’s profile. Now, liking a tweet is pretty much the same as retweeting it. The next time you think about clicking that heart symbol, consider whether you’ll regret it later.

2. Fancy a Covfefe, Mr. President?

Sorry to spread Fake News here Avoid Fake News and Verify the Truth With These 5 Sites and Apps There are plenty of lies floating around on the internet. From extensions that flag notorious fake news outlets to websites that bust hoaxes and myths, here are the five resources you need. Read More , folks, but Cruz’s accident wasn’t the biggest gaffe of 2017. That accolade, of course, goes to President Donald Trump Clicking Consequences: Why Donald Trump Is Your Fault Every time you click an article about Donald Trump, the media thinks that is what you want to read, and so it spends more time talking about Trump. Stop clicking! Read More .

You know the tweet. Its enigmatic message read: “Despite the constant negative press covfefe.”

And that was it.

covfefe t-shirt
Image Credit: dankeck via Flickr

The tweet wasn’t followed up, but was retweeted over 5,000 times before its deletion around six hours later. Some figured he meant “coverage” — in which case, the tweet is still missing its conclusion. Still, he’s the Commander in Chief of the USA. I guess he has more important things on his mind.

President Trump later tweeted:

Either he’s pretending it was on purpose, or he’s encouraging us to have fun with it.

The lesson to be learned: Think before you tweet. That should be Twitter’s tagline, frankly.

3. Ed Balls

Every time April 28 rolls around, Twitter users come together to celebrate Ed Balls Day.

For the uninitiated, Ed Balls is a British Member of Parliament who, in 2011, tweeted his own name. He was shopping and wanted to search for articles that mentioned him. Except he typed in the wrong box and tweeted “Ed Balls.”

Fair play to him, however. He admitted to this show of vanity and it’s since been retweeted over 95,000 times. Balls himself retweeted it back in 2014.

And so the legend lives on… and Balls proved himself particularly popular when performing Gangnam Style on Strictly Come Dancing (the U.K.’s version of Dancing With The Stars).

The lesson to be learned: Don’t indulge your own egotism. Or at least make certain you’re clicking Search, not Tweet.


Forget drunken behavior and plastic surgery: if you really want to see celebrities Beat the Bullies! How Celebrities React to Mean Tweets Twitter isn't always a land of love and kindness; sometimes things can get nasty. So, we've compiled a list of celebrities reacting to mean tweets, thus beating bullies at their own game. Read More making a fool out of themselves, Twitter’s the place to be.

4. Susan Makes an Ass Out of Herself

Okay, so this gaffe wasn’t committed by a celebrity, but rather perpetuated by their PR team.

Susan Boyle rose to stardom via a British reality TV show, Britain’s Got Talent, and in 2012, released her fourth studio album, Standing Ovation: The Greatest Songs from the Stage. To generate hype on social media, her marketing team came up with an ingenious hashtag.

There was simply no way #susanalbumparty could backfire. Ahem.

You’d think, considering the number of people in a marketing team, just one of them would’ve spotted it before it went live.

They were quick to change it to #SusanBoylesAlbumParty, but not before millions had spotted the hilarious error. Soon, poor Susan became associated with a celebration of nether regions, and a press disaster that still makes us giggle like we’re watching a Carry On film.

The lesson to be learned: Make sure your hashtag is conveying exactly what you want it to How Not To Twitter: 7 Hashtag Fails To Learn From This is a list of seven rather embarrassing hashtag fails that demonstrate how this simple shorthand can go horribly wrong. Thankfully, there are lessons to be learned here. Read More . Even adding capitalization should help things.

5. Not a Lucky Guy

We’ve all done it, right? In 2011, Charlie Sheen (Two and a Half Men) urged Justin Bieber to phone him. Except he posted his number to his 5.5 million followers, instead of sending it as a Direct Message (DM) Is Twitter Really Reading Your Direct Messages, And If So, Why? If you're smart and limit the information you give publically, you can keep a fair degree of personal information private. But does this privacy extend to direct messages on Twitter? Read More . The tweet read:

“310-954-7277 Call me bro. C”

Don’t try calling him now, it’s been disconnected.

charlie sheen
Image Credit: Doug Kerr via Flickr

That’s because his followers retweeted it, and he subsequently received a reported 1,800 SMS messages. His cell went into overdrive while he was eating dinner at the Guy Savoy restaurant in Las Vegas. He was a good sport about it, apparently answering a few calls by saying “Ray’s Pizza” and “winning.”

Sheen’s representative later joked, “I haven’t been able to get through to him on the phone since Wednesday. He just got a new number.”

The lesson to be learned: The Messages section on Twitter is now well separated from normal tweeting, but just in case, encourage DMs by automating a welcome text for followers — perhaps by using the Crowdfire app which also lets you unfollow dead accounts 10 Twitter Tips Most Pros Don't Even Know Learn how to master Twitter with these lesser-known but super useful Twitter tips and tricks. Read More easily.

6. Anything Cher Posts

Some people, however famous, simply should not be allowed on Twitter.

Going through Cher’s Twitter feed is like habitually walking past an alcoholic who shouts at all passers-by. Often, she comments on current events in enigmatic fashion, which would be fine — apart from the fact they’re devoid of context. Sometimes you can work it out. Other times it’s completely out the blue.

Oh, and she does have an odd penchant FOR SUDDENLY USING CAPITALS FOLLOWED BY LOTS OF EMOJI Could Your Emoji Use Land You in Court? Language is always evolving, and so are the symbols and smileys we increasingly use to imply tone and body language. Read More & sumtimes txt spk.

A few favorite Cher-tweets (a genre of itself) include:

  • “Is this mom?”
  • “Ok just sent 100 desks”

The lesson to be learned: Don’t follow Cher. Or do, if you like that brand of unpredictability. Seriously, though, too many people tweet out of context, and for followers, it’s baffling and infuriating. Clarity is always key. If you overstep the character limit, split your messages across numerous tweets. Label them “(1/4)” et al. so no one gets confused.


The brand may be big, but they’re not always clever.

7. Come Fly With Me…

It all started out so innocently.

In April 2014, @USAirways received a complaint on Twitter: The American AA 1787 plane from Charlotte to Portland had suffered an hour’s delay. We all know how infuriating that can be, particularly when there doesn’t seem to be any reason for the tardiness.

US Airways apologized. Fairly standard stuff. Nothing to see here.

us airways twitter fail

A short while later, they responded again, asking for feedback, and offered to review the delay. They also included a very NSFW image alongside that message: a woman with an airplane being inserted into her… well, let’s call it “business class,” shall we?

It was deleted an hour later, and another apology swiftly followed.

The reason for this shocking display? The photo, from a German amateur adult film site, was sent to the Airways account earlier that day. As they attempted to report it as abusive, it was accidentally pasted into the tweet.

The lesson to be learned: It’s easy to report a tweet. All you have to do is click on the downwards arrow at the top right of the message and click Report Tweet. You’ll then have to explain why it’s offensive. No need to copy and paste anything.

8. #Competitorgate

Remember #Bendgate Trolling Apple: The 18 Best Reactions To The iPhone 6 Bending [Weird & Wonderful Web] Apple was trolled hard over the iPhone 6 Plus bending, and we have compiled the best reactions to BendGate just for you. Read More ?

A few years ago, the peak of smartphone ingenuity hit shelves: the iPhone 6 Plus Should You Buy The Bigger iPhone 6 Plus? The term "phablet" very much applies to Apple's recently announced iPhone 6 Plus, but there's more to it than just a bigger screen. Read More , with its old-school home button, Touch ID, and apparent susceptibility to bending in your pocket The iPhone 6 Bends In Your Pocket, Blizzard Cancels Titan MMO, And More... [Tech News Digest] Also, Samsung in Europe, Microsoft bug hunting, Google in-app purchases, texting while driving, and the Windows Phone cat. Read More .

Of course, Apple rejected the complaint — calling it a “very rare” occurrence — but users and competitors took advantage of this chink in the previously-impenetrable armor. This included the French division of LG, which tweeted (following translation):

“Our phones don’t bend, they’re naturally curved :) #bendgate.”

Apart from a serious lack of semicolon, there was nothing wrong with that.

Ah, but the tweet revealed its own secret at the bottom:

“Twitter for iPhone.”

As is commonly the case, it’s since been deleted. It may have been tweeted by an outside marketing team, but LG still might as well have admitted, “We don’t use our products either.”

The lesson to be learned: Few people will actually have this problem. People only found out via Tweetdeck Tweetdeck Teams: How to Manage or Share a Twitter Account If you share a Twitter account with others, perhaps managing a brand or just running a cool creative handle, then Tweetdeck just got a whole lot better. Say hello to the new Tweetdeck Teams. Read More , anyway. This does remind us, however, to value our privacy Get The Most Out Of Using Twitter Privately If you use Twitter, you've probably noticed that by default your profile is set to public. Have you ever wondered how to make your Twitter account private or even why you should? It's probably safe... Read More and re-evaluate what details are shared on social networking platforms.

9. Put Your Hands Up 4 Detroit

This is quite a sad story really: a 28-year-old man was fired for accidentally sending a tweet from a professional account, instead of his personal one.

Chrysler Group LLC’s feed issued the tweet:

“I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to f***ing drive.”

As you can imagine, the original tweet wasn’t censored.

New Media Strategies was the PR firm in charge of the account, and Chrysler ended its business with them immediately afterward.

detroit jefferson ave
Image Credit: paul bica via Flickr

The actual tweet was sent by Scott Bartosiewicz, who was subsequently dismissed from the company. Bartosiewicz said he could understand their position, but it was merely a mistake made while in a traffic queue on the Interstate 696.

The lesson to be learned: If you’re in control of more than one account How Do Celebrities Manage Their Social Media Accounts And What Can We Learn From Them Celebrities are the premium fuel of the social media world, and people like you and me just keep burning it. I’m certainly not saying it’s bad thing, though. It’s just a fact! However, have you... Read More , it’s simple to flit between them. Make sure you know which feed you’re tweeting from every time you do so.


All this goes to show that we’re all human. We all make mistakes. Some are costlier than others, generally based on how high-profile it is.

Have you ever made a huge mistake on social media? What was the fallout? And which other Twitter gaffes have made you burst out laughing?

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