Every day, scores of US military commands reach millions with posts aimed to inform and inspire: videos of valor, motivational photos, and, yes, puppy pics.
The military has codified the rules for managing these official accounts. But sometimes these social-media pros flub it – even the four-star command responsible for the US’s nuclear weapons.
Here’s a blooper reel of some of the military’s most embarrassing and dumb social-media mistakes since 2016.
‘#Ready to drop something much, much bigger’
US Strategic Command, which oversees the US’s nuclear arsenal, ringed in 2019 with a reminder that they’re ready, at any time, to start a nuclear war.
Playing off the image of the ball dropping in New York City’s Times Square, STRATCOM’s official account posted a tweet that included a clip of a B-2 dropping bombs. The command apologised for the message.
In May 2018, the internet was debating whether the word heard on a short audio recording was “Yanny” or “Laurel.” Then the US Air Force joined the debate, referring to a recent strike on Taliban.
“The Taliban Forces in Farah city #Afghanistan would much rather have heard #Yanny or #Laurel than the deafening #BRRRT they got courtesy of our #A10,” the official US Air Force Twitter account said.
The A-10 gunship carries a fearsome 30mm cannon used to destroy buildings, shred ground vehicles, and kill insurgents. It can fire so rapidly – nearly 3,900 rounds a minute – that the sound of each bullet is indistinguishable from the previous one, blending into a thundering “BRRRT.”
The US Air Force apologised for the tweet and deleted it, acknowledging it was in “poor taste.”
‘I’m like really smart now’
In January 2018, President Donald Trump fired off a flurry a tweets defending himself in response to the headline-grabbing details in Michael Wolff’s book, “Fire and Fury.”
Trump said he was “like, really smart” and “a very stable genius.”
That prompted a tweet from comedian Mindy Kaling from her character in the office, with the caption: “You guys, I’m like really smart now, you don’t even know.”
The US Army’s official Twitter account liked Kaling’s tweet, to which she replied: “#armystrong”
By the following day, the US Army had unliked the tweet.
Tough. Bold. Ready.
In 2016, the US Navy celebrated the 241st year since the date of its creation with a tweet that combined three images into one: a warship, a fighter jet, and a painting of a historic battle.
But the birthday message didn’t go over well with one audience on Twitter: Turks.
The flag in that battle scene closely resembles that of Turkey, a NATO member and US ally, as Muira McCammon detailed in Slate.
The Turkish community on Twitter sharply criticised the US Navy, and the Navy deleted it.
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