I never realised marketing departments employ Twitter wall moderators. It's an important job, too. The Twitter wall moderator ensures that publicly displayed tweets are
appropriate. It's like being a censor under an authoritarian regime. Failing your duties as a Twitter wall moderator could lead to nothing less than a public revolt (after which the marketing department has to start educating the public again).
The Twitter wall moderator who censored tweets using the hashtag #spreadthecheer on behalf of Starbucks suffered a
temporary malfunction with the content filtering system this weekend. Tweets referring to Starbucks' tax avoidance policies and how the company treats its workforce filtered through and were displayed on a screen at an ice rink outside the Natural History Museum. Worse, Kate Talbot (
Geordie in London. Leftie feminist.) witnessed the event and took a picture before the Twitter wall moderator could hit the delete button…
The campaign started on 10 December, and at first the Twitter wall moderator did a good job. Only tweets like
Holiday shipping with my mom makes me happy #spreadthecheer and
20,263 minutes til Christmas!!! #spreadthecheer were displayed on the wall. It all went wrong this Saturday when this tweet appeared:
- Spend money at independent coffee shops cos they pay their taxes unlike Starbucks! #spreadthecheer
Followed by lots more. Here's a small sample:
- Tip the staff as Starbucks just cut their wages! #spreadthecheer
- Pay your fair share. Not just what you can get away with. #spreadthecheer
- I like my coffee emporiums to pay their tax like I like my coffee emporium employees; paid correctly. #spreadthecheer
- #spreadthecheer all year round by paying your tax - it funds things like healthcare, education and pensions
- Espresso your view. Does Starbucks make a mochary of tax? Other chains Costa the economy a lot less and pay full corp tax. #spreadthecheer.
- If firms like Starbucks paid proper taxes, Museums wouldn't have to prostitute themselves to advertisers #spreadthecheer
- #spreadthecheer support local, independent coffee shops. Not only do they pay their taxes, they offer something more exciting & cheaper.
The interesting thing is that Starbucks apparently feels that the tweets weren't
appropriate for all audiences and full of
profanity. (At least, that's what the Telegraph and Huffington Post claim. It should be noted that Starbucks hasn't made an official statement). This may be true for the few tweets that used adjectives such as
fucking and nouns such as
MoFo's (note the apostrophe abuse!) but most of the tweets were actually quite family friendly. What Starbucks is really saying is that it considers any tweets that criticise the company to be vulgar and therefore unsuitable for broadcasting. That tells you something about marketing.
I hope you'll support independent coffee shops (those that treat staff as human beings rather than human resources) while they still exist!