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Another Corporate Social Media Screw-up

Another week and another example of a corporation making a massive social media blunder—this time from fashion outlet and purveyors of all things spandex and neon, American Apparel.

If the sheer brightness of their clothing wasn’t enough to make your eyes burn, then one of their social media employees posting a photograph mistaking the space shuttle Challenger explosion for fireworks to its Tumblr account certainly is. American Apparel is no stranger to the news-cycle of late, as they recently forced out CEO and founder Dov Charney for purportedly abusing company funds and being a monumental creep. The latest e-gaffe is another glaring dent in a brand that increasingly seems to have no control of its image.

The company removed the image after immediate online-backlash and issued a swift apology, but curiously rationalized the mistake on an ‘international’ member of the social media staff born after the Challenger disaster that claimed the lives of seven Americans in 1986.

So while they apologized, the blame-shifting reeks of insincerity.

The real issue with these occurrences is the lack of oversight from companies themselves. Interns, low-level employees or contracted-help appear to have carte blanche when it comes something as pivotal as the corporate message, and the checks-and-balances that exist to prevent these screw-ups seem disturbingly absent. After this story broke I was immediately reminded of the Asiana Air crash last year where pilots’ names were reported to KTVU inaccurately. The names were given to the news outlet by an intern at the National Transportation Safety Board, and one has to instantly ask—how?

How are major organizations operating with this apparent nonexistence of accountability or fact-checking?

Your brand should be your most prized possession and guarded as such. American Apparel’s brand-value is on a steep decline in part because of their inability to monitor their own workforce, be it a result of ineffective management, the absence of functional roles and parameters or outright laziness—and it will show in their year-end financials.

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