“f gwenifill”? Former pubmedia consultant’s Twitter mistake results in bizarre messages

By Andrew Lapin

Several news organizations’ Twitter accounts, including some public media accounts, emitted a deluge of cryptic messages reading “f gwenifill” today.

The tweets trace to social media strategist Kate Gardiner, who has consulted for public media and nonprofit news organizations and has access to many of their Twitter accounts through TweetDeck, a Twitter client. Gardiner initially tweeted that she had been hacked but told Current that the tweets were a mistake on her part, caused when she was “cleaning up” her TweetDeck account. “f gwenifill” was a test tweet she had created for PBS NewsHour when she worked for the program as its first social media desk assistant, and she accidentally sent it via all the accounts she still has access to. In Twitter’s early days, mobile phone users typed “f” to follow another user.

Affected accounts included that of New York’s WNYC and several of its individual programs,  the NewsHour and its specialized Twitter feeds, and the Poynter Institute.

Asked about her former clients’ responses to the incident, Gardiner said, “So far no one has sent me anything mean.”

Gwen Ifill took the glitch in stride.

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