Social media is one of the quickest ways for big brands and entities to get themselves in hot water. All it takes is a poorly timed tweet, a distasteful post, or accidental share of inappropriate content — but this may be the first time that a guy got fired for his choice of emojis.
USA Today reports that social media manager for the Houston Rockets Chad Shanks was fired Wednesday for an offensive tweet, but it wasn’t the text alone that caught people’s attention.
Shanks fired off the tweet right before the end of Tuesday night’s first-round playoff series game against the Dallas Mavericks, which the Rockets won. The tweet read “Shhhhh. Just close your eyes. It will all be over soon.” The text was accompanied by two emojis: a pistol and a horse.
When distasteful tweets like these and other social media gaffes happen, they’re noticed quickly. There are 27 million pieces of content shared online every single day, and when social media users see something controversial or offensive they don’t hesitate to draw attention to it. After some backlash, Shanks’s tweet was deleted.
The Mavericks did respond to the tweet with another, which said, “Not very classy but we still wish you guys the best of luck in the next round.”
According to ESPN, Shanks was a valuable part of the franchise and had attended most of the team’s games and updating the team’s social media and website. He later apologized from his personal Twitter account.
“Sometimes you can go too far,” Shanks wrote. “I will no longer run @HoustonRockets but am grateful to the organization that let me develop an online voice.”
With the rise of smartphones and emoji integration into social media (like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook), more and more users rely on them to express what they’re thinking without words.
According to NPR, about 65% of Americans now have a smartphone, and there are about 1,000 emojis for users to choose from. This offers yet another dynamic to our rapidly evolving methods of communication, but social media managers should, of course, tread carefully.