#MakeItHappy Twitter campaign algorithm hijacked by Gawker @MeinCoke bot, Coca-Cola tweeted introduction to infamous book
A Coca-Cola Twitter campaign called “Make it Happy” has had to be withdrawn because it was tweeting quotes from the introduction to Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.
The campaign was initiated during an advertising spot at the weekend’s Superbowl, but a counter-campaign by news site Gawker saw the campaign hijacked and tricked into tweeting extracts from Hitler’s book.
Coca-Cola said the aim of the campaign was to “tackle the pervasive negativity polluting social media feeds”. However, the campaign backfired when the algorithm which converted tweets hashtagged with #makeithappy into pictures of ‘happy things’ using an encoding system called ASCII was abused by a Gawker employee.
In the below example, the white nationalist pride slogan “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White Children” was automatically turned into a happy looking balloon dog by the Coca-Cola Twitter algorithm.
An employee at Gawker saw this as an opportunity to hijack the algorithm. He subsequently created a Twitter bot called @MeinCoke, which started tweetinglines from Mein Kampf tagged with #makeithappy.
Coca-Cola was then, ultimately, pushing out happy-looking ASCII pictures made up from the very words of hate itself. Adolf Hitler’s text was seen on Tuesday morning to be creating cats and bananas.
On Wednesday, Coca-Cola pulled the campaign entirely. A Coca-Cola spokesperson said in a statement to AdWeek: “The #MakeItHappy message is simple: the internet is what we make it, and we hoped to inspire people to make it a more positive place. It’s unfortunate that Gawker is trying to turn this campaign into something that it isn’t.”
Yesterday, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo said in an internal memo obtained by the Verge: “We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we’ve sucked at it for years.
“I’m frankly ashamed of how poorly we’ve dealt with this issue during my tenure as CEO. It’s absurd. There’s no excuse for it. I take full responsibility for not being more aggressive on this front. It’s nobody else’s fault but mine, and it’s embarrassing.”
How much do you know about hackers? Take our quiz here!