Spontaneity, the very thing that makes Twitter so wonderful, also can make it a nightmare for posters with fast fingers. And it's especially nightmarish when people are using their company's official account.
It's a fair bet that most such tweets sent by rogue employees don't reflect the sentiments of their companies. And there have been many such tweets. Here are nine other memorable — and, for the companies, regrettable — moments.
(Thanks to Henry Copeland of Blogads for his suggestions.)
A glaring example was the tasteless tweet from a KitchenAid employee during the first presidential debate of the 2012 campaign, when President Obama spoke about his grandmother, who had died three days before his election.
KitchenAid apologized profusely, tweeting: "Deepest apologies for an irresponsible tweet that is in no way a representation of the brand's opinion…"
Tech company ASUS introduced its new Transformer AIO tablet PC at the Computex trade show in Taipei this year, employing a typical "booth babe" to show it off. ASUS tweeted a photo showing the backs of both the laptop and the woman.
When representing a condom company, tact is especially important. And the South African branch of condom maker Durex showed no tact when it tweeted this supposed joke.
The online retailer sells clothing based on the styles of celebrities, including Alicia Keys and Jennifer Lopez. One of the items is a Kim Kardashian-inspired white pleated V-neck frock called Aurora. In July, when Celeb Boutique's social media team saw that #Aurora was trending on Twitter, it seized the opportunity. About an hour later, the company tweeted an apology, saying that it had not looked at why #Aurora had become a popular topic. It had been because of the Aurora, Colo., movie theater shootings.
In another case of not doing homework, pastry company Entenmann's accidentally associated itself with Casey Anthony, the mother put on trial in the murder of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee. Simply seeing that the hashtag #notguilty was trending, Entenmann's jumped right in. Which brings this question: Who's guilty of not paying attention to the news that Anthony had been acquitted?
In the poster child for company Twitter gaffes, shoe and clothing maker Kenneth Cole tweeted about the Arab Spring protests in Cairo that toppled a government and claimed several lives.
Someone at Microsoft dislikes Ann Coulter, the outspoken right-wing writer and commenter. After learning that former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich would be visiting his granddaughter before sitting on a panel with Coulter, someone tweeting from the Microsoft account let loose.
Saying its account had been compromised, Chrysler apologized profusely after someone tweeted on behalf of the company. Chrysler quickly deleted the tweet, though an astonished retweet lives on.
While temporarily overseeing the company's official Twitter feed, an intern at fashion designer Marc Jacobs bemoaned the trying task of finding an official social media overseer acceptable to CEO Robert Duffy.
It's bad enough when a company lets a loose cannon of an employee hijack its Twitter message. But McDonald's left itself open to the entire world when it created the hashtag #McDStories, hoping it would inspire people to tell happy tales of their relationship with the fast-food restaurant. Instead it got a flood snarky and even angry tweets.