PReventing brain farts

      47 Comments on PReventing brain farts

Social media has often been compared to a cocktail party. As people move through the room they listen and participate in brief conversations, and soon find another discussion they like. But while cocktail party comments usually come and go in seconds, social media discussions never go away. Even after a comment is deleted it’s still searchable and becomes part of the Internet’s permanent memory. A single “brain fart” posted on Facebook or Twitter can cause a public firestorm–or end one’s career.

obama_thanksgivingSuch was the case when Elizabeth Lauten, communications director for a Tennessee congressman, criticized the Obama daughters for their bored behavior during the annual turkey pardoning event at the White House. The Facebook post ended up costing her job.

Lauten wrote: “Dear Sasha and Malia, I get you’re both in those awful teen years, but you’re a part of the First Family, try showing a little class…Then again your mother and father don’t respect their positions very much, or the nation for that matter, so I’m guessing you’re coming up a little short in the ‘good role model’ department. Nevertheless…act like being in the White House matters…Dress like you deserve respect, not a spot at a bar. And certainly don’t make faces during televised public events.”

After thousands online accused her of bullying the First Daughters, Lauten apologized on Facebook, posting: “I reacted to an article and quickly judged the two young ladies in a way that I would never have wanted to be judged myself as a teenager. After many hours of prayer, talking to my parents and re-reading my words online, I can see more clearly how hurtful my words were…”

Presidents’ children have historically been off-limits to public criticism, although there have been similar past incidents where such boundaries were violated. However, Lauten’s politically-driven Facebook eruption forced her resignation days later.

The lesson: Think twice before you hit “send.” Too often we’ve seen tweets and posts from politicians, celebrities, athletes, and business leaders that have resulted in PR disasters. Not every thought one has should be so quickly expressed online in our immediate media. Your thoughts?

47 thoughts on “PReventing brain farts

  1. Danielle

    Social media has gotten the best of me in terms of petty teenager drama. That taught me the dangers of tweeting or posting on an angered whim. On a national scale, the risks are even worse. How Elizabeth Lauten didn’t think about what she was saying about her nation’s leader and his family at the time of her post boggles my mind, but I’m sure this wake-up call will teach her the lesson of posting before thinking about what she’s saying. Too bad it was a lesson learned too late.

  2. Daniel Walsh

    SO much do people in the world today say what is on their mind on social media without thinking about the repercussion. in sports more so then ever it effects every move an athlete makes after and before games. The moral of the story is to just think before you post and if you can, don’t have a Facebook or twitter account!

  3. elizah9

    I am annoyed that Elizabeth Lauten would make such nasty comments about the president’s daughters. Teen years are filled with awkward moments and never-ending boredom, now imagine going through that in the public eye. It is hard enough that they have to surround their lives around their parents, now they have to be bullied via social media by a grown women. I am highly upset that this women would aim so low. This is certainly an example of poor judgement on her part.

  4. Jennifer Im

    The inter connectivity and global connection social media depends on seems to be underestimated even after a decade since the inception of widespread social media. Many people treat social media like a diary, spilling all kinds of personal info and mindless blab onto daily Twitter posts. Users need to realize just how far of a reach Facebook and Twitter has as a GLOBAL community, especially if it’s a communications director.

  5. Erik Freitas

    I personally think this person is a complete moron for posting what she did about the first daughters. These are the daughters of the most powerful man on Earth, after all, and its is unbelievable that she didn’t envision her career ending right after this post. I wonder what she hoped to gain from nitpicking two girls who, not by choice, have been brought into the spotlight. The American public, politicians, and even the press to some extent have always been protective over the first family, and this woman’s post was probably the worst brain fart of all. This reminds us to really think about the implications for our words for our own image before we post them to a mass medium.

  6. nicole_lombardo

    This makes me think of the saying, “It’s easier to ask forgiveness, then it is to get permission.” In this case its certainly not true. No apologies or forgiving can be done on social media, once something is said it is there and like you said, you can’t take it away. If you are going to write something, believe it and feel confident in it and don’t go back on your word. Seeing someone say something and than quickly apologize because they were attacked via social media, to me discredits their words and what they say for the future.

  7. Gabrielle Furman

    I agree that once something is posted on social media it’s out there. Nothing can be taken away because the person who posted doesn’t know if someone saw it already or saved it by the time it was deleted. After reading what Lauren did was inappropriate. This is the problem with social media its an easy outlet for some people and it is always there to vent about your problems or to say whatever there is to say. However, if some people so this there could be consequences to their actions.

  8. bharran

    With the continuing growth of social media, more and more people are posting inappropriate words and comments online – intential or not. What somebody posts online is forever there, a social media footprint as I have learned. Even if you think your words can’t affect you now, they certainly can come back to haunt you later. Even I have to watch what I say online sometimes or what content I share/post online. Always think before pressing send!

  9. Sarah Abuharaz

    I read an article on this incident a few weeks back and it got me thinking about just how careful we have to be when posting to social media. It’s kind of a scary thought when you think about it. One little, outrageous opinion, which every single one of us have on something, can ruin everything for us just because it is on a permanent memory. It can always be seen and referred back to. It’s scary because the internet doesn’t allow us to recuperate from our mistakes.

  10. Vanessa Felder

    As much as I want to call Lauren the stupidest woman alive… I can’t. There have been time where I’ve “accidentally” sent a text message that I soon regretted later. Often times in the heat of the moment people just react and post any and everything without really thinking of the longterm effects. Social media is a prime example of that. Sure Lauren was wrong and ignorant for what she said about Malia and Sasha, but how many times do we see this on our own social media pages? It has become far too common and the norm for some. If people actually took the time to double check their posts, messages and tweets, this would not be a common occurrence. But sadly, some people just don’t think of the repercussions of their social media actions.

  11. Anjelica Johnson

    Thinking twice before posting something can save a lot of trouble down the road. Once you put anything on the internet, it’s there forever and now this woman will forever be known as the person who verbally attacked Obama’s daughters.

  12. sophia1212

    People turn to social media as a form of venting, and I think we’re all guilty of it at some point. She definitely should have thought twice about that post, because it was very unprofessional of her. Given he fact she was a communications director, she should have definitely known better.

  13. bibianabogues

    It’s so crazy to me how viral and influential social media is. Lauten, like many others, was expressing her opinion and in the heat of the moment wasn’t thinking of the repercussions. This is a common occurrence nowadays and it has effected many public figures. The Internet and social media is never actually private and people need to be more cautious with what they say. Not only public figures but people in general need to be careful because potential employers and anyone seeking information can easily find it. Thinking before typing or posting is extremely important nowadays.

  14. Sarah Ramos

    Social media can be a powerful tool and using it incorrectly has its consequences. I am very careful about what I put on social media because of the ability it has to reach millions of people. One wrong comment can put someone in a bad place.

  15. agionesi

    I agree completely, honestly I was hesitant to post my last comment on the Ferguson case. It is soooo important to watch what you say on social media, especially because it will never go away and can be shared quickly. Also, everyone knows you don’t mess with someone’s kids let alone the president’s.

  16. Devin Jaffar

    People post a lot of things of social media without thinking twice. Personally, I believe that everyone should limit what they post on any social media platforms.

    Sometimes it does not matter what you post at the moment, but whatever you post can haunt you in the future. No one wants something they posted five years ago to cause them their career.

  17. Sarah Lopez

    Social media has become a public diary for a lot of people and some do not know the repercussions of making certain statements that is out there for the world to see. I personally cannot sympathize with Elizabeth Lauten. She is a communications director for crying out loud! It is even worse that she is a communications director for a political figure. Someone close to the congressman she represented must have ties to the White House or other political figures with power. There was no way this would be kept from the public’s eye. We have seen examples of this time and time again. You would think that individuals with jobs in the communications industry, especially in public relations, would know better than to comment on a subject like the First Family on a medium that everyone has access to.

  18. laurelroseo

    This is not a unique case, since the invention of the internet and various social media outlets we have witnessed multiple people suffer “brain farts” and end up losing their job over it. While everyone is certainly untitled to their opinion everyone on social media should think twice about how they word their opinions and if it is one the are willing to stand behind before they post. Online it is not as simple as “oops, I misspoke” the damage can be irreversible or at least difficult to control.

  19. Laura L.

    I believe everyone is entitled to their own opinion. However, one should be extremely mindful and aware when choosing to post an opinion on social media. You never know who will find the comment or the effects of posting the comment. If you feel somewhat uncomfortable with a certain comment, then don’t post it. If you feel you absolutely must post it, then try to find a way to put it as lightly as possible without hurting or offending others.

  20. danielle32493

    Although I completely agree with Lauten’s comment, it was extremely inappropriate for her to make that comment publicly. Personally, I know that there have been times in which I’ve wanted to make social or political rants on social media, but realize this isn’t necessary. We are all free to have our own opinions, but we must be sure to be respectful to everyone. After all, it isn’t just hurting their image, it is also hurting the image of the person who initially made the comment.

  21. mconno25

    “Not every thought one has should be so quickly expressed online in our immediate media,” is something I repeat to myself whenever I scroll through my social media platforms. What people decide to post on Facebook these days is ridiculous. If you have thoughts like Elizabeth Lauten, keep it to yourself. I can’t imagine what was going through Lauten’s head that posting a statement like that on the Internet seemed like a good idea. You can’t criticize the president’s daughters and get away with it. An apology for this may never fix your reputation and unfortunately for Lauten it didn’t because she was forced to resign. This kind of thing happens way too often to say it was just a mistake. It is obviously how people feel and it was vented to the wrong place. Luckily when this happens to celebrities their reputation is so credible it doesn’t matter. The public still values them as role models and inspirations.

  22. fcolav1

    My mother has always reminded me that, “You can’t take back what you say, but you can say it later.” Her advice is something I use everyday, whether it be with family members, friendships, professors, or now in my PR career. Thinking before you act is something many people forget to do now a days, and Elizabeth Lauten had to learn this the hard way. Not every opinion needs to be voiced on social media, especially when you are a communications director in the public sphere. She embarrassed herself and her employers. I am curious to see where she will land a new career, or if she even will for that matter.

  23. Gabby Leparik

    As a public figure, Lauten should have expected backfire for her choice of words. Although we are all entitled to our opinion, there is a way of expressing yourself that is appropriate and then there is the way she went about it. I believe it is ironic that she is accusing the two teens of being classless when she is clearly bullying from behind a computer screen. While we all tend to rely on the internet for stating our opinions, it is often forgotten that we should think twice before we post.

  24. Courtney Zanosky

    Being careful on social media and the Internet is extremely important for everyone — but especially people our age. Potential job employers can see everything that we have posted on the Internet and this could be a dangerous thing for some people. Lauten made a huge mistake and she can’t take it back, and this is something that we need to be careful to avoid. Definitely think first before any post or comment.

  25. Natalia Dutt

    This is definitely something you have to look out for when posting anything on social media. I think it could be looked at as very immature for Lauten to post something like this on social media. Everything you post on social media is out on the internet forever… even if you delete it. I think that you need to be careful in everything you do relating to social media. Thinking before you press send is definitely a great idea so you don’t find yourself in sticky situations like this one.

  26. tylercutler

    I had read about this earlier in the week, and while I don’t sympahtize with Lauten, I do sympathize with the idea that social media in’t the “personal diary” people like to pretend it is. It’s so easy to write something online you would never say out loud. The screen adds you protection. But even if you are alone when you write it, your hundred or thousands of followers can see it, and they all will have the opportunity to judge or criticize you for your words. Everything that is written down now must be thought about because it doesn’t go away as easily as it used to. I completely agree with your idea to “think twice” before posting.

  27. Areanna Rufrano

    Well I also think it depends on who you are and your occupation. If a farmer from the remote midwest was saying this it would not get much attention. But when you are a publicized individual working for a government official your actions are monitored. Still, every statement and action should reflect the company or individual you work for. Most of the time it is just best to keep things private. Obviously, bullying is unacceptable in every circumstance, but there is place for public opinion and the ability to exercise freedom of speech.

  28. maxeisenberg8

    Social media tends to increase many people’s likelihood of posting things they would never say in person. I guess it gives a sort-of confidence that you are veiled behind a screen and leads to more scathing responses and posts being put online. This woman should have just followed the old adage, “Don’t do unto others what you would not done to you.”

  29. Deana Meccariello

    I completely agree. So many of my Facebook friends post every nonsensical thought they have online. It is one thing to share your opinion but quite another to disrespect the beliefs of others.

    Take the Eric Garner and Ferguson protests. So many people are bashing the police, while an equally large amount are vocally supporting them and bashing those who are protesting. It is just breeding negative conversation and internet “fights.”

    People need to remember typing out and posting their thoughts in a negative manner will not change anything.

  30. Ashley P.

    It is so important to watch what you say and do on social media because it is so easily accessible and can also be easily misconstrued. Once something is posted on the Internet, it is there forever, regardless of if you delete it or not. Social media has made it so that privacy is virtually nonexistent, so one has to be careful. Ranting about political opinions online often makes people look harsh, rude, and uninformed, just as it did with Ms. Lauten. This is why public forums like Facebook and Twitter may not always be the best place to discuss these opinions, especially if one is in a position of power or influence.

  31. Makayla Sapienza

    I’d like to remark on the irony that a communications director in this example is underestimating the power of words, especially somebody whose field is in influencing public opinion. The power of the internet is impressive, a mindless post on Facebook made national news in a day. Certainly everybody needs to watch what they say.

  32. michaela marano

    I couldn’t agree more with this. As new and great as social media might seem, we have to remember to think before we post. Social media has such power over us as a society. We devote a lot of our time to it and it can make or break us in just one click. By all means do I believe that people have the right to voice their personal views and opinions however one must remember that every action has a reaction. Personally, as of late, I have really refrained from posting on social media because in the grand scheme of things is sharing all the details important? Do my followers care? Most likely the answer is no to both of those questions and its not doing anything beneficial, until I enter a professional environment where the tweets and posts have a true purpose. As for Luarent, it was totally unprofessional and being in the job position she is in, she should have known that saying those things about the President’s children would have consequences. “If you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say it at all” applies not only in grade-school quarrels but also in daily adulthood life.

  33. jheiden1

    I think it’s so important to keep a leash on personal social media content. What may seem like a good idea in the heat of the moment, usually turns out to be a bit of a disaster. When I was younger, I put little thought into what I posted or who I offended. Now I make sure to control everything I post. Clearly, this attack on the Obama daughters was not a smart one.

  34. kcormi2

    This situation is a classic example of sharing too much with too many people, a problem that happens far too often. Social media is not the place to rant about personal views and opinions, especially when your job is in politics. Saying something negative for hundreds (possibly more) of other users to see and save is not only detrimental to this person’s personal image, but also to her employer’s. It was definitely in Lauten’s best interest to resign.

  35. nikkigyftopoulos

    I think that every individual, famous or not, can learn from the wise words in this post. The Internet is a great tool of communication and expression, but you must choose your word wisely. Like you said, your posts, tweets, and words are never erased and will be on the world wide web forever. I think it is so important that children are taught this from a young age now that the Internet is so prevalent. What you post online can be detrimental to you career, relationships, and life. Like you said, “Think twice before hitting send.” This could not be more accurate.

  36. Jessica Vallario

    As a professional who is familiar with both politics and PR, she should have known better. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. And in our day and age, social media seems like the ideal place to disclose our personal beliefs, thoughts and ideas. However, the ill-spirited post should have never been made. Perhaps, it should have been reserved as an anonymous blog post, or kept in the “notes” section of her cell-phone. Her comments were plain catty and seemed more the rantings of an angry sorority sister who’s had one to many glasses of pinot grigio. In short, even thought she is entitled to her opinion, she should have avoided commenting as a professional in the public eye. Lesson learned.

  37. kwalker222

    People venting on social media has become the norm but for a communication specialist to go off like this is just ignorant. When you work in the communications field you should know the importance of what you post on social media even if your hundreds of “friends” don’t know where the line is. Where she worked in this field and even in politics I think she deserved to lose her job.

  38. Gia Palomo

    I dont think Social Media is where anyone should be ranting their feelings. Maybe to some degree but never a full blown rant on one thing because you never know who could be reading and how it could be taken. Before posting something online, its definitely wise to think twice and read the post over again.

  39. aschil2

    It is amazing how quickly a person’s post on social media can affect their career. PR professionals are particularly at risk for these blunders because we are often responsible for a client’s social account while we are also responsible for recovering from any one that is part of the company’s social media blunders. It is very important to be tasteful while making jokes and being careful of criticizing people and ideas.

  40. Doug Gillies

    Think before you type. The internet is not a forgiving world. Before posting something online the news paper model should be used. What you post should be something you approve of being on the front page of the newspaper for every one to see. You need to be prepared to defend your posts and tweets agains people who may have the opposite views and not with a generic answer but with a higher understanding than the average joe.

  41. Lyndi Catania

    Yes, people do need to start thinking twice before they post. Although Lauten apologized, she made an extremely terrible mistake. She was a communications director and should have known better. She had the time to write such a detailed post, but she didn’t have the time to realize how unprofessional this was? She’s not the only one to do something like this, but I couldn’t believe it when I heard this.

  42. nixablevins

    Social media has become something similar to a diary. Many people want to express every thought and action they take throughout the day, except this time they express their thoughts in public. While I am not familiar with Elizabeth Lauten’s social media presence besides this incident, I do find it disturbing that she would write this on a public platform, especially considering her career.

    From the photo of Obama’s daughters, I do see how someone might want to critique them. However, she did it in a very harsh way. Rather than critiquing the children, her reasoning clearly related back to her strong dislike of the President and the First Lady.

    I also feel that it is important to keep the First Daughters out of the media and off the internet due to the respect of the family. they are growing up in an environment that is very different than the average child.

    Lauten’s actions were uncalled for. Had she kept this conversation at home with her family, it is likely that nothing negative would have come from this situation.

  43. Rebecca Costa

    Sometimes people forget that social media is, well, social. I see people on my Facebook and Twitter feeds rambling and ranting about topics and it makes them sound crazy. What Lauten posted about Sasha and Malia was completely out of line. It makes her look unprofessional and makes her loose credibility in her job of Communications Director. My parents always taught me that what you post on the internet will never go away, and I use that advice every time I tweet, comment or post on social media.

  44. Jessica Braveman

    I completely agree with this. Social media has become a huge part of our daily lives and many of us don’t realize how many people are seeing what we post online. Our digital profiles are no longer private, no matter what settings you turn on. Anyone has access to the things we say and do online, so it’s important to think twice before posting. I think that Ms. Lauten got caught up in the recent volatile political atmosphere and forgot that as someone who assists a public figure, she can’t post whatever she wants on line. It’s scary because this exact situation could affect anyone.

  45. Jenna_xo

    I totally agree with this post. We all should think twice about what it is we want to say or how to say it if at all before jumping the gun and posting something immediately. Once it is on the Internet it never goes away, it’s there forever.

  46. Ashley Iadanza

    Sadly, this is something that is becoming more and more commonplace. All of my “friends” on facebook are bullying others without realizing that that is in fact what they’re doing. I even find myself falling into that trap as well and have been much more careful the past couple of months watching what I post as well. Whats worse is, that should be just as easy as it sounds…


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