The perils of Twitter have been thrown into the spotlight once again after a seemingly innocent tweet about using Irish butter ignited a major row about environmental impact and colonialism.

According to a 2020 Pew Research Center survey, 64 percent of American adults believe social media has a mostly negative effect on the way things are going in the U.S.

That perception is unlikely to change for many of those who caught the fallout from a recent innocuous tweet from a user called Yvette, who posts under the handle Afrosabi.

A slab of butter.
Stock image of a slap of butter – one seemingly innocuous tweet sparked a major row on social media.

She originally took to the social media platform to extol the virtues of Irish butter. “I had [to] buy Irish butter because there was a butter shortage here and that was the only thing available,” the tweet began. “Bruh…I will never not use Irish butter in my baked goods again. IRISH BUTTER Y’ALL”

The tweet has been retweeted 950 times, earning 16,500 likes. However, another user, posting as SeeksMaria, evidently wasn’t among those to “like” the post.

Responding to the tweet, they wrote: “I have a friend in Ireland and the country is falling apart bc of too many dairy cows. Maybe there is something local or WI or VT rather than Ireland and in the comments someone said NZ? Shipping butter halfway across the world? Is there an alternative?”

The response left some on Twitter stunned.

“So, are you just completely ignoring everyone who reminds you that it was literally the ONLY BUTTER AVAILABLE in the store? What, exactly, should’ve been done in that specific situation? In which there was no other butter in stock?” TheWaderick asked.

SeeksMaria responded by tweeting a link to an article showing how to make butter at home in just 20 minutes.

Responding, Roses_gum said Seeksmaria’s comment was “The most ridiculous response ever.”

“She wanted to bake some cookies for a friend. The store only had this one brand. She bought what was available. The cookies turned out great. Let it go. I’m sure you can find better ways to use your voice & actions to help the environment.”

Several Irish Twitter users then got involved to try to dispel the suggestion their country was falling apart.

TV panelist Sue Jordan pointed to a housing crisis, social inequality and an “inept” government as causes for concern but insisted Irish butter was one of the country’s “gifts to the world.”

Seeksmaria was unmoved though and opted to change tack.

“We have a responsibility for the future generation to stop being selfish and petty and think what our choices are doing to their future lack of having any choice,” they tweeted. “Over butter and plastic. Colonialism was a mistake.”

That sparked yet more tweets. PKLong62 tried to defend their butter usage.

“I buy local store brand butter, unsalted, for baking, and fancy butter like Kerry gold for putting on bread/toast,” they said. “There used to be a farmers market seller who had delicious local butter, but they don’t come to our farmers market anymore.”

Unfortunately, Seeksmaria had no time for this, replying: “You can make your own in a mixer in minutes.”

Others sought to defend Afrosabi. Mizzustobias tweeted: “She’s buying butter from the grocery store, not impregnating cows. Calm down….”

Meanwhile, the likes of EnkiReed appeared happy to push Seeksmaria’s buttons, writing: “Hon, you’ve inspired me to put six more bars of unsalted KerryGold on my shopping list and to bake some more cookies with it.”

Elsewhere, SLDaniel4 commented: “it’s not cool to respond to someone’s tweet by telling them what products they should/shouldn’t buy.”

That prompted a response from Afrosabi who tweeted: “And to direct some bulls*** about colonialism to a Black woman? Get the f*** out of my face and address corporations that have everything to do with it instead of some random person on Twitter who is now going to encourage more people to buy Irish butter.”

Seeksmaria replied: “I’m Native and yes not all Black people are pro Native as we all can see in your comments.”

Tensions escalated with Afrosabi firing back: “Yeah, you can personally go f*** yourself for interjecting this h*******t into my mentions.”

Seeksmaria responded: “It’s not reasonable to have such a reaction for pointing out you’re harming Irish people and accelerating climate emergency.”

However, that comment didn’t wash with many on Twitter. Jordanreiter pointed out: “For most people, the biggest carbon impact of food is the grocery shopping trip itself. Which, I mean it’s good to keep it in mind. But not worth agonizing over the carbon costs of shipping foods worldwide. That can be very efficient because of scale, often less than local farms.”

A few suspected it might be someone feigning anger at Afrosabi’s use of Irish butter. Others though were simply stunned that it got to this point. One incredulous user, tweeting as TWLadyGrey, seemed to sum up Seeksmaria’s comments perfectly: “Black Americans are colonizing Ireland by buying their butter. Never change, twitter.”

Newsweek has contacted Afrosabi and Seeksmaria for comment.