Adidas UK got into a ton of trouble on Twitter yesterday when they did a campaign to promote their brand new Arsenal soccer jerseys. Essentially, anyone who liked the Tweet about the jerseys would be replied to with a photo of a custom jersey with their Twitter handle on it. As you can imagine, some Twitter trolls decided to take advantage of this by making racist and despicable Twitter handles which ended up getting tweeted out by the official Adidas UK account. These tweets were generated automatically so the algorithm was unable to put a stop to what was happening.
The racist Twitter handles ranged from anti-Semitic slurs to the use of the N-word. Twitter users immediately flagged the issue although it took the account a while before it started deleting all of the replies.
Adidas responded to the controversy with a statement to CNN, saying “As part of our partnership launch with Arsenal we have been made aware of the abuse of a Twitter personalization mechanic created to allow excited fans to get their name on the back of the new jersey. Due to a small minority creating offensive versions of this we have immediately turned off the functionality and the Twitter team will be investigating.”
A similar situation happened to the Montreal Canadiens of the NHL a few years ago which led to a ton of criticism and scrutiny.