AT&T CEO apologizes for pulled 9/11 tweet

He says in a blog post that the image, which framed part of the New York City skyline in a smartphone screen, "fell woefully short of honoring the lives on that tragic day."

Some found AT&T's Sept. 11 tribute offensive. Screenshot by Lori Grunin/CNET

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has weighed in on the company's Sept. 11 tribute tweet -- which some found offensive -- offering another apology.

In a blog post on Thursday, Stephenson offered a personal apology, acknowledging that the image used in the post "fell woefully short of honoring the lives lost on that tragic day."

AT&T set off a mini-controversy on Wednesday when it posted a tweet with an image of the New York skyline and the twin beams of light meant to replace the fallen World Trade Center towers. But the center of the image was framed by a smartphone, an insertion that many found to be crass and a blatant attempt to use the tragedy to reinforce AT&T's brand.

AT&T quickly pulled the tweet, which had elicited a number of negative responses, many of which used language unfit for this news outlet. In its stead, the company issued an apology, which itself was dinged as insincere and a half-baked attempt to control the damage.

A similar post on Facebook did garner nearly 5,700 likes, as well as comments defending the image.

Regardless, Stephenson said it is a day "that should never be forgotten and never, ever commercialized."

The full text of the apology follows:

We're big believers that social media is a great way to engage with our customers because the conversation is constant, personal and dynamic.

Yesterday, we did a post on social media intended to honor those impacted by the events of 9/11. Unfortunately, the image used in the post fell woefully short of honoring the lives lost on that tragic day.

I want to personally express to our customers, employees, and all those impacted by the events of 9/11 my heart felt apologies. I consider that date a solemn occasion each year, a time when I reach out to those I was with on that awful day, share a moment of reflection for the lives lost and express my love of country. It is a day that should never be forgotten and never, ever commercialized. I commit AT&T to this standard as we move forward.

--Randall Stephenson, AT&T Chairman and CEO

About the author

Roger Cheng is the executive editor in charge of breaking news for CNET News. Prior to this, he was on the telecommunications beat and wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal for nearly a decade. He's a devoted Trojan alum and Los Angeles Lakers fan.


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