'Scumbag hat' tweet creates backlash for Seattle DOT

In an attempt to make followers laugh, the Seattle Department of Transportation tweeted a photo with commuters and “scumbag hats” Monday morning, which resulted in backlash.

The photo was a shot of gridlock traffic on the West Seattle Bridge and it included several brown “scumbag hats” photoshopped on many vehicles.

“Scumbag hat” refers to a popular Internet meme, added to photos to describe someone as a scumbag.

In response to the tweet City of Seattle communications director Jeff Reading released a statement: 

“It’s never acceptable for a city employee to ridicule members of the public. I understand the tweet in question was meant humorously, but many — myself included — took it quite differently. Mayor Murray holds a high standard of respect for communications with the public across all city departments. We will ensure that this type of offending humor is not repeated in communications to the public by City of Seattle employees.” 

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Officials with the West Seattle Transportation said the tweet was inappropriate and unprofessional. 

SDOT spokesman Rick Sheridan released a statement after the tweet:

“The use of the hat meme was not intended to insult drivers but to highlight a roadway problem and help drivers make decisions about their trips. We apologize to anyone that was offended by the tweet.

Our traffic management center personnel typically use humorous memes to highlight problematic situations for drivers. The staff member was trying to note that rubbernecking near a collision site was creating delays.

We have removed the tweet from our Twitter feed. The staff member’s supervisor will also reinforce the department’s standards for social media. Again, we apologize if anyone was offended.”

The tweet has been removed. 

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