Update: Flowics, the company who was tasked with setting up the mechanics for this social campaign, has published an apology.
“Our agency team was asked to be in charge of the Setup and, regrettably, we did it wrong. Due to human error in the configuration, we failed to activate a filter in our product, which takes care of rejecting offensive or abusive content.”
Here’s example number 1000 on why to never used automated tweets.
The Montreal Canadiens were celebrating the fact their Twitter account @CanadiensMTL reached a million followers and decided to give back to their fans by giving them “a surprise” when they tweeted to the account under the hashtag #CanadiensMTL1M. The surprise? An automated response from the team featuring a video of Canadiens player such as P.K. Subban and Max Pacioretty telling them thanks for being a great follower and for the support following the team.
Here’s an example.
— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) February 24, 2016
Since the response is automated, people have created usernames with racist and offensive usernames to get the account to tweet out the awful names. These accounts are not what a hockey team wants to be associated with, for example here’s one directed to @ILoveIsis.
The accounts being tweeted at from the Canadiens official account are much worse than that one. One of the tweets used the N-word and the Canadiens responded with a team jersey of the offensive handle thanking them for their support.
This Montreal Canadiens account is almost exactly what happened with the New England Patriots Twitter account, after it decided to thank their fans for reaching a million followers. The Patriots received the same hate-filled, racist usernames which easily slipped through the cracks of the automation system. Heck, this isn’t even the first hockey related Twitter automation incident, as the Toronto Maple Leafs posted inappropriate tweets after a social media campaign went awry.
— Brendan Brennan (@B_G_B_) December 18, 2013
These type of incidents are completely avoidable. Apparently the Canadiens are working to “fix the Twitter situation” but the images have already been shared countless times. Is it really worth it to respond to fans with a generic, automated message when the possibility of someone tweeting something horrible is almost definitely going to happen? Definitely not, and you would think teams would realize this by now.