In a lesson of caution for social media branding, the New England Patriots Twitter account thanked a user with a racist handle as part of a campaign to celebrate reaching 1 million followers.
The tweet, sent out around 9 p.m., thanked an account that included the N-word in its handle, also attaching an image of the hateful phrase digitally plastered on the back of a Patriots jersey.
The tweet quickly attracted criticism from Twitter users.
The tweet has since been deleted, and the Patriots issued an apology on Twitter: “We apologize for the regrettable tweet that went out from our account. Our filtering system failed & we will be more vigilant in the future.”
About 12 hours earlier, the team had sent out a generic tweet to celebrate reaching 1 million followers by asking fans to retweet the message for a custom digital Patriots jersey photo. Users who retweeted the Patriots received a thank you message with a picture of the Patriots jersey and their handle on it. The tweet thanking the hateful username appears to have been a result of that campaign.
We apologize for the regrettable tweet that went out from our account. Our filtering system failed & we will be more vigilant in the future.— New England Patriots (@Patriots) November 14, 2014