clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Gawker ruins Coke's internet kindness campaign by making it tweet Hitler quotes

New, 93 comments

In spite of the courage and optimism that Coke showed during its Super Bowl ad last weekend, it appears that the internet is, in fact, too mean for it to fix. According to Adweek, Coke has now had to pull an online campaign that it launched alongside the commercial because it resulted in the company's main Twitter account spitting out images that included the text of Hitler's Mein Kampf.

As part of Coke's ad campaign, it allowed people to reply to tweets with the hashtag #MakeItHappy, which would prompt the @CocaCola account to automatically take that tweet and spit it back out as fun ASCII art. The idea was that Coke would turn negative tweets into positive images, but naturally, things got way out of hand. Mainly, that's because Gawker built a script that prompted Coke to tweet out the manifesto's text.

"It's unfortunate that Gawker is trying to turn this campaign into something that it isn't."

After about a dozen tweets containing ASCII art versions of Mein Kampf, Coke put a stop to its automated image maker. "It's unfortunate that Gawker is trying to turn this campaign into something that it isn't," Coke tells Adweek. "Building a bot that attempts to spread hate through #MakeItHappy is a perfect example of the pervasive online negativity Coca-Cola wanted to address with this campaign." While Gawker very much took advantage of Coke's campaign, Coke really should have known what it was getting into when it set up an automated bot to process hateful tweets — a filter list or a reviewer would have gone a long way toward preventing an incident like this.


Image via Gawker

Lesson is: there's a lot of negativity on the internet and plenty of people willing to mess with you. Coke knew that — clearly. It's admirable that Coke wants to change that and bring the issue more attention, but it looks like it'll have to find a new approach to Twitter. That's not really a big surprise: even Twitter doesn't know what to do about abuse.