UPDATED: American Airlines Customer Service Includes Reporting Terror Threats on Twitter

In case you missed it, many in our industry feel that social media management and customer service teams should work in unison. The idea is that the fall of the silos separating these disciplines will improve the performance of both.

American Airlines is one account that blends the two well, but yesterday a very odd interaction demonstrated, once again, the challenges of engaging with users in real-time. From BuzzFeed editor Samir:

Of course, the user in question is 100% responsible. But what’s the correct way to respond to a message like this one?

It’s one thing to reply to what could only be the world’s least clever attempt at a joke with a “knock it off, we take this very seriously” and another to announce the use of powers that you don’t actually have.

As Twitter’s own employee quickly noted, the company does not have access to the IP address of the account in question (which has since been wisely suspended)–only law enforcement can request such data. It would appear that the AA account simply got ahead of itself.

The lesson: teams managing social must be prepared to deal with even the most bizarre messages from random parties around the world. And as serious as legitimate terror threats may be, incidents like this one carry significant risk for the brand, which would much rather focus on its many interactions with legitimate customers.

As always, respond with great caution. And even if you do have to report someone, you don’t have to let the rest of the world know about it.

UPDATE: Dutch police have taken the responsible tweeter–who was indeed a 14-year-old girl–into custody for “making a false report”. No word on whether charges will be filed.

@PatrickCoffee patrick.coffee@adweek.com Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.