ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) – A city agency gets caught tweeting a message urging support of a certain presidential candidate. City staff originally said it was an innocent, one-time, mistake. Critics say there’s more to it than that.
The tweet that started everything was a link to a Facebook page. It urges people to pledge their support to vote for Hillary Clinton in the Missouri primary Tuesday. No big deal, except that a taxpayer funded city agency, the St. Louis Development Corporation, tweeted the link.
A number of tweeters cried foul, including St. Louis Alderman Scott Ogilvie. He tweeted, “Whoever is in charge of this account needs to be relieved of that responsibility by 9am, the next day, zero excuses.”
“A tweet lives forever. It can be re-tweeted and sent out to everybody around the world.” said Webster University Assoc. Dean Paaige Turner.
City staff originally said the person who sent the tweet mistakenly thought she had sent it from her personal account. They said it was a one time thing and the post was taken down.
“We have more accounts on our phones than we can possibly manage. I know I`ve sent an email out from a wrong account. I have put things out that I wished I hadn`t. but as organizations we`re going to see this happening more and more.” said Paaige Turner.
The same city account tweeted an alert about the opening of a new Hillary Clinton campaign office in St. Louis on February 16th. Experts say simply taking down the tweet probably is not enough.
“Everybody screenshots tweets. They can take it down, but what is the city going to do to prevent it from happening again. They need to have some sort of system in place for anybody that`s running a government owned social media account.” said Webster University Professor of Communications Julie Smith.
“Information can be sent out first apologizing for the situation, acknowledging the mistake, and then also saying what actions are going to be taken going forward to make sure it doesn`t happen again. Or if it does happen again, what are you going do about it.” said Paaige Turner.
The agency has not tweeted an apology. But Director Otis Williams says the tweets were taken down and the staffer has been disciplined. He would not specifically say “how.” Henceforth, he says workers will be definitely be made aware that this is not acceptable.