You’d think after over a decade of Twitter, people would have worked out which common pitfalls to avoid.
Particularly if they’re tweeting from the account of a big business or an official government department.
And yet the German Foreign Office proved this is simply not the case, with a faux pas of incredible proportions yesterday that saw it make fun of the notably stressful and fraught process that is applying for a visa.
Whoever is in charge of the Foreign Office’s account (an intern, perhaps?) made the mistake of joining in with a seemingly innocent Twitter trend. Ah, sweet summer fool.
This resulted in the Foreign Office’s verified Twitter account – I repeat their verified Twitter account – tweeting “Your visa got approved,” accompanied by the hashtag “#SeduceSomeoneInFourWords”.
Understandably, this caused backlash.
Visa approval is obviously massively entwined with immigration policy. Anywhere in the world this would be a touchy subject; officially approving or denying a person’s right to build a life in a new country has massive ramifications.
In 2019, Germany passed a controversial new package of immigration legislation that included expanding powers of deportation for failed asylum seekers.
So to see an official government account spending time tweeting jokes about a process that can often ruin lives and separate families is… jarring.
Which is why they ended up having to apologise for the gaff, saying “Being funny is apparently not always our strong suit”.
It’s not the first time a governmental department’s Twitter account has made light of policies that can ruin people’s lives.
In 2013, the UK Home Office tweeted “#Rosesareredvioletsareblue, if your marriage is a sham we’ll be on to you #happyvalentinesday” to mark 14 February in a normal and not at all dystopian tweet.
Someone please teach the oppressive arms of state how to do social media properly.