There are Internet trolls, and then there are INTERNET TROLLS.

How, exactly, did Gawker dupe Coke’s Twitter account into tweeting large chunks of the introduction to Hitler’s autobiographical manifesto Mein Kampf, ultimately forcing Coca-Cola to shut down a Twitter ad campaign?

It all started when Coca-Cola launched the “Make it Happy” campaign, introduced in an ad spot during Super Bowl. Coke told viewers it wanted them to reply to negative tweets with the hashtag #MakeItHappy. The idea was that the brand would then turn those words into cute art images using ASCII lettering code. In a press release, Coca-Cola said its aim was to “tackle the pervasive negativity polluting social media feeds and comment threads across the internet.”

That’s when everything backfired. “Gawker soon noticed a tweet from Coke’s Twitter account that had turned the “Fourteen Words” slogan of white nationalism into an ASCII dog,” reports AdWeek.


Even though Coke was unaware that this was happening (the Twitter account was, after all, automated), Gawker editor Max Read was not pleased. Read writes,

Even when the text is shaped like a dog, it is disconcerting to see Coca-Cola, the soda company, urge its social media followers to safeguard the existence and reproduction of white racists.

So Gawker took action. The website created a Twitter bot, @MeinCoke, and set it up to tweet lines from Mein Kampf and then link to them with the #MakeItHappy tag—triggering Coca-Cola’s own Twitter bot to turn them into cutesy pictures.

On Tuesday morning, Coke’s Twitter feed was turning the hate Gawker found—a.k.a. Hitler’s Mein Kampf text—into adorable smiling pirate ships and cutesy hamburgers.


Photo: Gawker

Wednesday afternoon, Coke shut down the Twitter-based social campaign altogether.

A Coca-Cola spokesperson emailed the following 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. 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.

Even the founder of Twitter knows that the Internet at large has a problem with abuse from trolls, and automated Twitter accounts will, inevitably, get hijacked.

[via AdWeek, The Guardian]