Much like McDonald's before it, Starbucks has discovered the potential hazards of using Twitter hashtags to interact with customers. HuffPo reports that a recent Twitter campaign in the UK went haywire as the coffee chain asked people to #spreadthecheer for the holidays — resulting instead in a wave of tweets criticizing Starbucks over its tax controversy in the UK and labor practices. Even worse, tweets such as "Hey #Starbucks, PAY YOUR FUCKING TAX #spreadthecheer" were displayed on a screen at the Starbucks-sponsored ice rink at the Natural History museum in London.
A spokesperson for the company apologized for the "inappropriate messages" that were allowed to slip on-screen, blaming a "temporary malfunction" of their filtering system, adding, "As a family-friendly, responsible company we are committed to ensuring that our publicly displayed content is appropriate for all audiences and profanity filters have been in constant operation since the ice rink opened in November."
So what exactly were UK Twitter users up in arms about? Well, Starbucks recently agreed to pay a higher corporation tax in the UK to the tune of £10 million ($16,065,000) a year after it was discovered the behemoth was avoiding taxes by transferring revenue through countries with lower tax rates. But, according to The Guardian, Starbucks UK is also planning on "cutting paid lunch breaks, sick leave and maternity benefits for thousands of British workers." So that obviously has resulted in a lot of pissed off coffee drinkers in the UK. Take a look through the gallery above at a sampling of the #spreadthecheer tweets from this botched social media campaign.