Ed Miliband error proves why accuracy is important

Oh dear.

Ed Miliband

Uh-oh. B(l)ack to Basics for Ed Miliblunder

The Labour leader must have thought it was such a good idea at the time. “Bob Holness has died: better show people I care by tweeting my respects.”

But in his haste to get the message out there, he made a rookie error that resulted in an embarrassing faux-pas:

@Ed_Miliband Sad to hear that Bob Holness has died. A generation will remember him fondly from Blackbusters.

Ooops. A bad mistake to make at any time, but in the week that you’ve been berating one of your MPs for her own Twitter misdemeanours regarding racial matters, a classic and costly Miliblunder.

On the one hand, you could argue that we’re all fallible and make mistakes, but on the other, ‘o’ and ‘a’ aren’t really close enough on a keyboard to plead user error. And besides, you’re making a public statement as a major politician, even if it is in 140 characters.

Check before you tweet!

The resulting furore has mainly been light-hearted: many people have had a few laughs at Ed’s expense on Twitter via the #EdMilibandGameShows hashtag, but at a time when the media spotlight has been shining so brightly on Diane Abbott and Miliband these past few days, he surely could have done without scoring such an unnecessary own goal.

To compound the error by tweeting a four-letter expletive imploring people to leave him alone shortly afterwards does him even less credit than his shoddy typing and lack of attention to detail.

The ability to proofread, and the importance of accuracy should never be underestimated.

They can save your reputation, and possibly your job!

And if it turns out that his Twitter account was hacked, and the ‘error’ was planted maliciously, as some have suggested, then it’s a timely reminder to take social media security seriously too.

The point remains: a single letter in the wrong place can cause you all sorts of bother!

6 thoughts on “Ed Miliband error proves why accuracy is important

  1. You’re right about the importance of proofing but is ‘man makes typo’ really the front page news story it has become. Increasingly seems like Twitter is an easy source of news for lazy journos. Everyone looking to capitalise on the next slip-up or cash in in next bout if mock outrage. I’ve not proofed this so am now a hostage to fortune!

  2. I think this gaffe and the media reaction it caused raises a number of interesting points. I agree with you to some extent that Twitter does seem to have become an easy source for ‘news’ stories, but from a media perspective the timing and detail of the slip was deliciously ironic. Had it been any other vowel, ‘Bleckbusters’, ‘Blickbusters’ or ‘Bluckbusters’ it wouldn’t have warranted a mention.

    From my perspective as a business writer for hire who wants to help companies communicate more effectively, this incident was an excellent reminder of the importance of accuracy.

    We may argue that Twitter has become too harsh a spotlight, and that it’s unfair that public figures can be villified so quickly and by so many for a simple mistake, but there’s little or nothing we can do to change that. It just means that those 140 characters have got to be 100% accurate, which is undoubtedly a challenge when people are responding at speed, and often on a smartphone’s virtual keyboard that doesn’t favour fat fingers!

  3. Re your final point – as demonstrated by me in my initial response! I am still intrigued as to why the version of Ed’s now-infamous tweet that reached me contained no typos. How did that happen?

  4. Well, I didn’t like to say anything ….!

    From what I understand, the tweet (which was apparently sent by an underling rather than the man himself) was deleted very swiftly, and replaced by the correct version soon afterwards. If you hadn’t been checking your timeline every few seconds (which most of us don’t) you may have missed the original error and only seen the replacement tweet.

  5. Which raises another interesting point: EM wasn’t the first to have been let down by subordinates running their Twitter accounts. It’s a high-risk strategy. If you’re too busy to run one, maybe you shouldn’t…

  6. ….maybe they should employ the likes of us to do it for them, with 100% accuracy and efficiency guaranteed. Could be a nice little earner …

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