December 11, 2019

Anti-Semitic Trolls Hijack Adidas Campaign

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Adidas deleted anti-Semitic tweets on July 2 stemming from trolls hijacking their social media campaign.

The sportswear manufacturer was promoting new London Arsenal gear on its United Kingdom Twitter account, where it encouraged users to tweet out the #DareToCreate hashtag. Under the automated campaign, Twitter users who tweeted the aforementioned hashtag would have their Twitter handles featured on the back of Arsenal jerseys.

However, this campaign went awry when Twitter handles such as “@GasAllJewss” and “@InnocentHitler” took part in the #DareToCreate hashtag.

Adidas eventually deleted the offensive tweets.

“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,” Adidas said in a statement through a spokesperson. “Due to a small minority creating offensive versions of this we have immediately turned off the functionality and the Twitter team will be investigating.”

Microsoft and the New England Patriots are other examples of having prior social media campaigns upended by trolls.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center tweeted, “.@adidas owes our community an apology. @Twitter – After billions of #Tweets what part of Gas/Jews/Hitler/innocent can’t you stop?”

Anti-Defamation League (ADL) CEO Jonathan Greenblatt wrote in a July 1 Times of Israel piece that “there’s a bright through-line from online hateful ecosystems to in-person violence,” and explained how the ADL is partnering with Moonshot CVE and the Gen Next Foundation to counter online hate.

“The program, dubbed the Redirect Method, will use advertising to provide individuals who search Google for violent extremist material with content that exposes the falsehoods of extremist narratives, providing searchers the choice of an off-ramp to radicalization,” Greenblatt wrote. “Targeting content potential extremists search for — rather than focusing, for example, on what they post to social media — can directly address their harmful online behavior and desires. By providing them with credible sources, we hope to decrease the impact of extremist content and increase the spread of the truth, such as, there is no one ‘European’ identity that is under threat. In this way, we speak directly to those who may be at risk of radicalization, and we incentivize re-thinking those ideologies with accurate information.”

This article has been modified to correct Gen Next Foundation’s name.