NFL faces social media storm of the century
The National Football League is facing one of the largest social media backlashes in history, with widespread criticism for their reaction to the ending of Monday Night Football.
Monday Night Football is the NFL's showpiece event of the week. The controversial ending to the game between Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks was seen by millions, as the Seahawks won with a last second touchdown that the audience could see should never have counted.
Green Bay was leading the game 12 - 7 with eight seconds to go, before a pass was thrown into the endzone. Despite being caught by a Green Bay player, the referees awarded a touchdown to Seattle. This meant they took the victory by a score of 14 - 12, however this was no usual refereeing mistake. The regular NFL officials have been on strike over a pay dispute, meaning the league has hired a number of replacement referees who have no top level experience.
Social media outrage from players, fans and celebrities
As so regularly happens after sporting controversy, Twitter and Facebook were instantly taken over by angry fans, with Twitter busier than it had been since the ending of the London Olympics. An expletive laden rant from Green Bay Packers player T.J Lang was retweeted over 140,000 times, while golfer Bubba Watson urged fans to watch the Ryder Cup next week instead as "we got no refs".
With close to four million Twitter followers, the NFL posts updates on the happenings throughout each game. Their response to the fallout of the error was noticed by a number of eagle eyed fans. A tweet posted in the immediate aftermath of the game ending read "touchdown or interception?" and was promptly deleted, while on Facebook a photo posted claiming to show the winning catch was actually taken during a completely different passage of the game. This photo was then also removed, before yet another incorrect picture appeared reporting the end of the game.
Thousands of tweets were made criticising the NFL for their attempted social media cover-up, while the Facebook wall was also taken over by angry fans. With so much scrutiny on social media and how organisations use it, the NFL refusing to admit their mistakes is seen by many as a major own goal set to cause long term damage to the reputation of the league.
Natalie Booth, online marketing manager at theEword said "This is the latest example of the importance of Twitter and Facebook, and why it is so essential that organisations manage their social media responses to breaking events correctly".