Air Force Special Operations Command has deleted a COVID-19-related post on Twitter causing a bit of a social media ruckus and apologized for its “poor taste.”
The tweet read “Know what else has CV that isn’t #COVID19? #CV22uesday !”, with a picture of CV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft. Since deleted after a call from Military Times, the tweet, posted Tuesday night, hit a sour note among some social media users.
“PAOs bout to get fired,” posted one person on Twitter in response, which was part of a thread since deleted by AFSOC.
“Seems like PAOs are either really good at their jobs or they post stuff like this...,” posted another.
“We recognize it was in poor taste and have taken it down and apologize to anyone offended,” Matt Durham, AFSOC director of public affairs told Military Times. “We will review how this happened and act accordingly.”
The posting came just days after Army officials fired a social media manager on Saturday for an Instagram post related to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak that critics — including at least one member on Congress — blasted as offensive and racist.
The post, part of a series of questions and answers on the virus, was up on the Army’s official social media account for several hours before being deleted. Under the posted question “why did a man eat a bat,” Army officials wrote “it wasn’t because he was thirsty” with a picture of a man shrugging.
The comment appears to reference rumors that the coronavirus originated from someone eating a bat in China, an assertion that scientists have not confirmed. But the idea has provided fodder for culturally insensitive jokes and ethnic blaming for the fast-moving illness, which has already killed nearly 13,000 people worldwide (more than 200 in the United States).
That post drew condemnation from veterans groups and military advocates on social media for its insensitivity.
“This is simply unacceptable,” Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill. and an Iraq War veteran, wrote on Twitter. “We do not know how COVID19 first infected humans but racism has no place in our Armed Forces.”
Army officials later deleted the thread and apologized for the posting.
Howard Altman is an award-winning editor and reporter who was previously the military reporter for the Tampa Bay Times and before that the Tampa Tribune, where he covered USCENTCOM, USSOCOM and SOF writ large among many other topics.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.