Twitter storm erupts between Fort Worth councilman, Weather Channel

05/12/2014 10:39 AM

05/12/2014 6:00 PM

It began with a frustrated tweet from City Councilman Joel Burns over what he says were repeatedly ignored requests to The Weather Channel to stop associating photos of Dallas with Fort Worth.

“Dear @weatherchannel I SWEAR I’m deleting your aggravating app if you don’t STOP SHOWING DALLAS pics for Fort Worth,” the Monday morning tweet read, accompanied by two screen shots illustrating the mistake.

Its response:

“Sorry to see you go. Good luck on ending bullying.”

A storm quickly developed on Twitter with a torrent of tweets from Burns’ followers and beyond, threatening to delete their Weather Channel apps and calling on the cable network to apologize.

Burns, Fort Worth’s first openly gay council member, gained international acclaim in 2010 after delivering a moving message to gay teens — called “It Gets Better” — during a council meeting.

After reading the bullying tweet, he offered the network a chance to calm the storm.

“Let’s help kids instead of snark?” he tweeted to the network, asking it to donate $100,000 to the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network and The Trevor Project, nonprofit organizations aimed at helping teens. He added that he would donate $1,000.

By 10 a.m., the cable network had tweeted an apology to Burns and later reiterated its regrets in a statement.

“This morning one of our team members used sarcasm in an unfortunate and unacceptable way on our Twitter account. It was not our intention to offend and we are sorry that we ​did,” the statement said. “We have since apologized to Councilman Burns​ and want to restate that sincere apology and assure him that this tweet does not represent our views. In fact, this is the opposite of how we want to interact with our fans, as we value their input on any occasion. We are taking the necessary steps to be sure something like this does not occur again.”

And by Monday evening, Burns said a Weather Channel spokeswoman “assures me” the company will make a contribution — “she couldn’t confirm how much” — to the education network and to Trevor Project.

Also, Burns said, “They love the #THISisFortWorth phtotos and might use some . . . so keep them coming.”

Burns said photographs of Dallas have been routinely posted with Fort Worth weather since the Weather Channel app was updated a few weeks ago.

“I finally got frustrated this morning and sent out the text that you saw and kind of blew up from there,” Burns said.

He called the network’s response to his first tweet “disappointing.”

“I thought about it for just a second: Were they actually being honest in this?’,” Burns said, referring to the tweet that referenced bullying. “Nope. That was not an earnest tweet. That was a jab.”

Blumenthal said Monday that the network is working to provide more city-specific photos on its app.

Burns and others who have joined the crusade offer some suggestions.

They have posted photographs of themselves on several social media sites, including Twitter and Tumblr, posing in front at various Fort Worth landmarks and locations, sometimes holding signs that read “@weatherchannel #THISisFortWorth.”

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