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Starbucks Fights Conspiracy Theory Targeting Immigrants

The right-wing hoax is spreading quickly across the internet


In news so deplorable it can’t be made up: Starbucks is fighting a group of right-wing conspiracy theorists who created a fast-spreading hoax out of thin air. Meme- and prank-generator 4chan is behind “Dreamer Day,” according to Buzzfeed, a fictional event set for August 11 in which “undocumented Americans” get 40 percent off their purchase at Starbucks.

Users of 4chan, which is known for cyber-bullying and harassment (and spread the rumor known as Pizzagate), created marketing language and graphics that were designed to look like they were produced by the Seattle-based coffee giant. As Buzzfeed reports, a comment left on the site last Wednesday appears to be the impetus for the hoax, which seems designed to troll immigrants, and those who support progressive immigration policies:

How about we meme “Undocumented Immigrant Day” at Starbucks into existence? Announce free coffee for all illegals on a certain date. August 11? 11 looks like II (for Illegal Immigrant). I’m open to suggestions there. Name a liberal place for all illegals to go at once and demand free stuff.

A follow-up thread offered up the idea to call immigration agents on Starbucks locations on the designated day:

The plan is to meme into existence a day where Starbucks is supposed to give free coffee to "undocumented Americans" and then alert ICE for the Round up. Even if this doesn't work it will still be a good publicity scare.

Other users responded with graphics designed to look like Starbucks’ marketing materials.


The memes have already spread on Facebook and Twitter. Starbucks took to social media this weekend to fight the rumors. Senior vice president of global communications, John Kelly, told the Associated Press that the discount and messaging is “completely false. One hundred percent fake.”

Starbucks’s CEO has come under fire this year for expressing disappointment 2016’s presidential election results and promising to hire and train refugees. Trump supporters boycotted the coffee chain this past January. The last time Starbucks was victim to a conspiracy theory, the accusations were far more amusing: Someone made the silly suggestion that baristas spelled customers’ names wrong on purpose.

People Are Warning Others About This Fake Starbucks Ad Meant To Target Immigrants [Buzzfeed]
Starbucks Conspiracy Theory Suggests Baristas Spell Your Name Wrong on Purpose [E]
All Starbucks Coverage [E]