A popular American steak brand has gone viral for a series of eyebrow-raising tweets it posted amid seemingly endless media coverage of the global health crisis.
On April 6, Steak-umm shared a series of tweets in an effort to encourage the public to stop accepting anecdotes as actual data.
“Friendly reminder in times of uncertainty and misinformation: anecdotes are not data,” the brand tweeted. “(Good) data is carefully measured and collected information based on a range of subject-dependent factors, including, but not limited to, controlled variables, meta-analysis, and randomization.”
The tweet is particularly timely, as concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increasing number of false claims, according to the Associated Press. Some of those claims have suggested that eating alkaline foods or drinking alcoholic beverages can prevent the contraction of the coronavirus, despite the fact there is no hard evidence to suggest that those remedies work.
Steak-umm proceeded to follow its original tweet with several others, emphasizing the importance of separating real data from narratives that might twist the public’s perception of that data. It also cautioned against treating the media’s word as bible.
“Outliers attempting to counter global consensus around this pandemic with amateur reporting or unverified sourcing are not collecting data,” the brand continued. “Breaking news stories that only relay initial findings of an event are not collecting data. we have to be careful in our media consumption.”
The rest of Steak-umm’s tweets touch on how bias can inevitably lead to conspiracy theories.
Funny enough, the brand also admitted (openly) the role it has played in “misdirecting” consumers with its advertisements.
“We’re a frozen meat brand posting ads inevitably made to misdirect people and generate sales, so this is peak irony, but hey we live in a society so please make informed decisions to the best of your ability and don’t let anecdotes dictate your worldview ok,” it tweeted. “Steak-umm bless.”
The company’s tweets became a hit on the social media platform, with the original tweet receiving over 70,000 likes and a flood of supportive responses.
“Never thought we’d say this but here’s an important thread from @steak_umm,” Columbia University’s Department of Surgery tweeted. “Anecdotes are not data.”
“The good folk at steak-umm apparently understand research better than some of these self-described scholars,” academic and activist Marc Lamont Hill wrote. “Good stuff! Random as hell. But good stuff.”
“How are we living in a time when the most important and relevant tweet I’ve seen today came from an account representing frozen, sliced beef,” one college student added.
According to Fast Company, the viral tweets were, in fact, crafted by Nathan Allebach, who works at Allebach Communications and has been running Steak-umm’s Twitter account since 2015. In an interview with the publication, the social media manager said he felt compelled to share his thoughts after coming across a lot of misleading information.
“It was more just a cumulative effect of me having a job to spend every moment on social, seeing a constant flow of information, and a lot of it wasn’t good information,” he said. “I know we’re in this state of panic, and heightened cultural anxiety, so people aren’t at their best all the time, thinking about where they’re getting their information.”
While the brand’s recent tweets are a far cry from the usually humorous tweets it shares, Allebach maintained that they were in line with the brand’s voice and mission statement.
“We’re looking for people who are impacting others in this crisis and trying to amplify and help them in their own community,” he said. “That’s a new initiative for us, trying to help the people who are helping people.”
In recent years, corporate brands like Steak-umm have humanized their social media accounts, which have collectively been labeled as “Brand Twitter.” The trend dates back to as early as 2007, when the Los Angeles Chargers took over an account that had belonged to someone else. Since then, users have amusingly shared their interactions with brands like Subway, Noodles & Company and Greggs.
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