Ben DiPietro, The Wall Street Journal’s Risk & Compliance Journal, March 27, 2017

The crisis magnifying lens puts it focus on McDonald’s Corp. after a message was sent on the company’s Twitter account calling President Donald Trump “a disgusting excuse of a President” and trolling him by saying he has “tiny hands.” The White House did not comment, but some supporters of the president called for a boycott of the burger chain.

McDonald’s said it was notified by Twitter that its account was hacked. McDonald’s deleted the tweet, secured its account and said an internal investigation found the account had been hacked by “an external source.” The company put out a statement apologizing that “this tweet was sent through our corporate McDonald’s account.”

The experts evaluate how well McDonald’s handled this crisis.

Davia Temin, chief executive, Temin and Co.: “The fake tweet sent from McDonalds’ Twitter account on March 16 that disparaged President Donald Trump catapulted the company into the land of alt-tweetdom. Today, as companies and individuals alike struggle to delineate truth from fiction in public discourse, McDonalds had an immediate imperative to let the public know it had not officially sent the insulting tweet. It had to act quickly to set the record straight, before it even knew what really had happened. It couldn’t let a lie stand.

“It did an excellent job. I usually say you have 15 minutes to respond to a crisis these days. McDonald’s took the tweet down within 20 minutes, issued an apology that was just right, announced it had ‘secured its account’ and was investigating what happened. It followed up by saying Twitter had informed it to say its account had been compromised. It was a perfectly done, two-step response. Immediately the company acknowledged the problem and acted, promising an investigation. It followed up, as promised, with results saying its site was hacked. Not too much, not too little.

“Plus, it rightly knew it couldn’t control the Twitter responses from the public, which ran the gamut from jokes and hilarity to a threatened boycott. So, it didn’t even try, though [it’s likely] the company monitored it closely and was prepared to act if needed. But it was an essentially small matter and McDonald’s let it play itself out within a day or two, with no further comment; it didn’t let itself get ‘twitterpated.’ Had it continued to talk about it, it would have kept the issue alive even longer. McDonald’s deserves a break today on this one: its communications team gets an A-plus.”

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