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French President François Hollande and his media team learned the hard way that it pays to completely master modern technology before broadcasting a live event.
During a public relations trip to an online fashion company in the Paris suburbs, Hollande’s media team broadcast the event in real time on the streaming app Periscope. However, his staffers failed to disable the app’s live comments option, which prominently displays viewers’ comments across the screen. Thousands of French viewers seized the opportunity to post their unadulterated opinions on Hollande as the real-time broadcast unfolded.
Insults and ridicule filled the screen immediately, mocking everything from the president’s socks to his sex life. Many users gleefully pointed out how incompetent his staffers were for not disabling the commenting feed. Others generally derided the president and his policies.
The session was eventually terminated after 30 minutes, but the damage was already done. Le Nouvel Observateur called the incident “a catastrophe” for the president, and public relations experts said it “undermined the dignity of France’s presidential office.”
Gaspard Gantzer, head of the president’s communications department brushed off the choice to use Periscope (owned by Twitter), saying, “As often with social networks, there are positive and negative comments. Some are relevant, the others are off-topic. But this will change the mode of dialog and discussion with citizens outside of traditional media.”