Microsoft for a moment this weekend seemed to weigh into the cultural wars, criticizing controversial conservative pundit Ann Coulter with a tweet, before deleting it and apologizing. Apparently, it was a private tweet sent by a Microsoft employee, who mistakenly sent it out via Microsoft's official Twitter account.
Politico reports that Robert Reich, former secretary of Labor in the Clinton Administration, and the current Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, tweeted that he was in New York in order to participate on a panel with Ann Coulter, and to visit his four-year-old granddaughter. The Microsoft twitter account tweeted in response:
@RBReich your granddaughter's level of discourse and policy > those of Ann Coulter
Microsoft deleted the tweet when it found out about the mistake. Politico reports that Microsoft said in a statement that the "tweet obviously is not an official statement by the company."
Microsoft spokeswoman Christina Pearson told Politico:
"One of the people who manages our corporate twitter account thought he was tweeting from their personal twitter account on Saturday morning but tweeted from our corporate account by mistake. That person immediately realized his mistake and deleted the tweet from our corporate account. We have taken steps to help ensure that this kind of mistake doesn’t happen again."
Ann Coulter, as is her way, sent a snarky response to the Daily Caller:
"Good to see Microsoft is employing people experienced in state-of-the-art social media."
All this is one more example of how dangerous social media can be for companies, because it frequently mixes the personal and corporate. Those who are in charge of social media for companies often tweet or post to Facebook on their own, and the line between the company and the individual can blur. That's made worse when someone makes a mistake, as in this instance, and tweets from the wrong account. Whoever made the mistake, though, shouldn't be blamed. In a world in which the personal and the business overlap, it's one that's often made, and only shows just how new social media is and how far it has to go.