Epicurious apologizes for insensitive marathon tweets

In an attempt to limit the backlash after a social media misfire, the food enthusiasts at Epicurious have apologized for insensitive tweets sent out in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings.

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“The tweets should never have been sent," a spokesperson for Epicurious told Yahoo! Shine on Wednesday. “It was a mistake and we are extremely sorry.”

On Monday, the recipe giant reacted to news of the explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon with a heartfelt message.

But what followed after that left many readers confused and offended.

Followers were confused by Epicurious' Boston Marathon recipe Tweets. (Photo: @fsutoby via Twitter)

The company sent out three more tweets on Monday, promoting recipes for a "Meatless Monday" dinner, "Best Friends Forever Brownies," and a celebratory Tax Day cocktail to its more than 385,000 followers. But then, early Tuesday morning, as people were still reeling from the aftermath of the explosions and the rising casualty count, Epicurious took to Twitter with a bizarre combination of condolences and recipe ideas.

"Boston, our hearts are with you. Here's a bowl of breakfast energy we could all use to start today," the first Tweet, sent at about 7:45 a.m. Half an hour later, it was followed by another: "In honor of Boston and New England, may we suggest: whole-grain cranberry scones!" Both tweets included links to recipes.

The outrage was immediate, and ranged from mocking re-tweets to a simple "How Tacky!" to an expletive-filled 140-character rant. The company quickly deleted their insensitive tweets, and offered up an initial apology that only made people more upset.

"We truly regret that our earlier food tweets seemed insensitive," Epicurious tweeted over and over in response to criticism from individual followers. "Our hearts and prayers are with the people of Boston."

While some people were satisfied by the company's statement, many followers didn't feel that the apology went far enough.

"First, let’s be clear: their earlier tweets didn’t 'seem' offensive. They were offensive. The word 'seem' shifts the burden of blame onto their readers," pointed out Brad Phillips, a media training expert and the author of "The Media Training Bible." "It stops short of fully acknowledging the obliviousness of their tweets. Second, a repeatedly tweeted template 'apology' isn’t genuine. It’s a form letter. The steady stream of identical tweets does nothing to engage with the audience and express human remorse."

The company must have gotten the message: It quickly removed all of the repetitive tweets and posted the single, sincere apology.

And while there's definitely a social media warning to watch for -- other recent, high-profile snafus include Enteman's #notguilty hashtag after the Casey Anthony murder trial and online retailers who tried too hard to make their tweets relevant after Superstorm Sandy -- Epicurious didn't seem to lose any of their more than 385,000 followers, many of whom were quick to forgive.

 

Note: Epicurious provides food and recipe content for Yahoo! Shine.

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