An errant Twitter message about "Mormons and repressed sexual tension" posted on Salt Lake City TV station KTVX's feed Friday offended some people, amused others and caused the unnamed sender to become unemployed.
This message went out on KTVX's Twitter feed around 10 a.m Friday: "I'm downtown eating. Surrounded by Mormons and repressed sexual energy."
It was quickly deleted, but not before it was "retweeted" and commented upon by dozens of Twitter users. A few called it "funny," while others were offended by the insult to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"Stay classy, ABC4?" sarcastically wrote one Twitter user, Connor Boyack, a Web designer in Lehi.
Several on Twitter speculated correctly, it turned out that a KTVX employee wrote a message intended for his or her personal Twitter account but accidentally sent it to the company feed.
The KTVX feed remained blank until about 12:45 p.m., when an apology was posted: "A personal tweet went out that in no way is consistent with the station views. This issue has been addressed and we apologize for the tweet."
At 1:30 p.m., KTVX's general manager, Matt Jaquint, confirmed that the employee who wrote the tweet turned in a letter of resignation, and station executives accepted it. Jaquint would not identify the employee, but said the person wasn't an on-air personality.
Several Twitter users considered the loss of a job an overreaction. One oft-repeated tweet read, "How ridiculous that the @ktvx employee quit or was forced to quit over this!"
Nationally, other examples of absent-minded Twitter messages led to someone being fired in 140 characters or less.
Earlier this summer, CNN correspondent Octavia Nasr was fired after she tweeted her admiration for Lebanon's Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, an anti-American linked to bombings and the deaths of more than 250 people.
Another famous example involved a woman who was offered a job at Cisco Systems. She then tweeted she would like the "fatty paycheck" but weighed it against the commute to San Jose and "hating the work."
A "channel partner advocate" for Cisco saw the Twitter message and replied: "Who is the hiring manager? I'm sure they would love to know that you will hate the work. We here at Cisco are versed in the Web."
Reportedly, the job offer was rescinded.
According to a study by Proofpoint, an Internet security firm, 8 percent of companies polled have fired someone for behavior on social-networking sites, such as Facebook and LinkedIn.
Steve Outing, who runs a University of Colorado journalism program on emerging digital technologies, said more and more people are getting in trouble over what they tweet because they don't realize its sudden, global reach. In addition, the technology can make it too easy to make mistakes.
"If you're a Twitter user and you have only 50 or so followers, you tend to think it only goes to those 50 followers. But if you say something particularly inflammatory, it can go to a few more, and then go viral," he said. "And you can do it with your phone or apps that post to Twitter by just talking to your phone. It's so easy to set something off before thinking about it."