When hotel worker Roy Jones hit the like button on what seemed to be a mundane tweet, he never expected the fallout that was to come.

Jones, 49, worked on social media accounts for the Marriott International hotel group and reviewed hundreds of tweets every single shift he worked.

During one of his night shifts in January a tweet came up praising the hotel. It didn't ring any alarm bells for Jones so he hit "like" from his desk in Omaha, Nebraska, the Wall Street Journal reported.

This is the offending tweet:


It turns out that the tweet was from a Tibetan separatist group that had spoken glowingly of the hotel group for listing Tibet as a sovereign state instead of part of China in a customer survey.

The only problem was that it was all a big mistake. Marriott had already paid hugely for what it admitted was an error and had cut off ties with the company that had produced the survey.

China had been very, very mad and had punished Marriott. In what would have been a devastating blow to the company it was forced to suspend bookings in China for its 300 hotels for a week, a market it's currently focused on expanding.

So Jones liking the new tweet from the separatist group was the last thing Marriott needed.

Shanghai Municipal Tourism Administration even ordered Marriott to "seriously deal with the people responsible".

Jones was shocked to lose his $18 per hour job.

"This job was all I had," he said. "I'm at the age now where I don't have many opportunities."

He said he had no idea it would have been problematic to like the tweet.


"I was completely unaware of what was going on," Jones said. "We were never trained in any of the social graces when it came to dealing with China."

Regarding the Tibet statement, Craig Smith, head of Asia-Pacific for Marriott, had previously said: "We made a few mistakes in China earlier this year that suggested some associates did not understand or take seriously enough the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China.

"Those incidents were mistakes and in no way representative of our views as a company."

News.com.au contacted Marriott for comment.

- News.com.au