Gawker, the media news and gossip website, tricked Coca-Cola's Twitter bot into posting large excerpts from Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf," forcing the soft drink giant to shut down its #MakeItHappy on Tuesday, The Guardian reported.
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Coca-Cola launched the campaign during the Super Bowl to "tackle the pervasive negativity polluting social media feeds and comment threads across the internet," according to a company press release. It used an algorithm to covert negative tweets into pictures of happy things, such as a cute mouse, a sunglasses-clad palm tree, or a chicken drumstick sporting a cowboy hat, according to The Guardian.
However, Gawker created a Twitter bot called @MeinCoke to tweet excerpts from the introduction to Hitler's nefarious autobiography. The lines were sent to the #makeItHappy tag, and Coke's Twitter bot retweeted them in the form of cute drawings.
Coca-Cola's Twitter feed went through several paragraphs Tuesday before ceasing to respond, and the company suspended its campaign indefinitely Wednesday.
“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," a Coca-Cola spokesperson said. "It’s unfortunate that Gawker is trying to turn this campaign into something that it isn’t.”
Coca-Cola added, “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.”
The phenomenon of negativity on social media, embodied by the trend of trolling, also got to Twitter CEO Dick Costolo.
“We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we’ve sucked at it for years,” wrote Costolo in an internal memo obtained by the Verge on Wednesday.
“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," he wrote. "I take full responsibility for not being more aggressive on this front. It’s nobody else’s fault but mine, and it’s embarrassing. We’re going to start kicking these people off right and left and making sure that when they issue their ridiculous attacks, nobody hears them.”