Hashtags still kind of confound me, so I rarely use them in my own life. But I can see how they can be powerful; you can start or contribute to a trending topic on the Internet, promote yourself and your company, or just use hashtags because #YOLO (yay, I did it!). However, sometimes using hashtags can work against our best intentions with social media. Several days ago, The New York Police Department tried to bolster the NYPD name and encourage others to support it by tweeting photos of themselves with NYC police officers under the hashtag, #myNYPD. The results haven’t exactly been ideal. In fact, they’ve been disastrous.
Instead of posting positive images of New York citizens and their law-implementing officers, people have been uploading photos that reveal police brutality and unnecessary violent treatment. This utilization of the #myNYPD hashtag has understandably gathered a lot of attention from the Internet, and exposed how some people feel about the NYPD. But this isn’t the first time a hashtag has backfired. Here are 9 more times hashtags have caused some major (and sometimes hilarious) Twitter drama:
McDonald’s PR team wanted to illustrate that great things that have come from McDonalds, and asked Twitter users to include #McDStories in their 140 character testimonials. Instead, people used #McDStories to share the fast food chain’s not-so-great food practices, unsanitary conditions, and their philosophy on processed food.
This Australian airline company tried to start a hashtag trend on Twitter by encouraging flyers to share their positive experiences. Instead, they were faced with the truth: that the quality of their services weren’t exactly luxurious.
To promote Susan Boyle from Britain’s Got Talent and her new album, her PR team created the hashtag #susanalbumparty. This would have been exciting, except people decidedly read it as #SusAnalBumParty, which is redundant, but tragic nonetheless.
Much like the unfortunate Susan Boyle Twitter hashtag emphasis, instead of reading this hashtag title as #NowThatchersDead (which was created to mourn the death of Magaret Thatcher), people read it as #NowThatChersDead and therefore mistakenly grieved for the wrong deceased lady. Oops.
Obama Care didn’t exactly create the smoothest transition as far as healthcare systems go. But President Obama’s PR team wanted Twitter users to employ the hashtag #ObamacareisWorking to show how awesome the new healthcare system is anyway. Unfortunately, the amount of people upset with their new insurance overshadowed the individuals who were happy with it. #ObamacareisWorking was mostly used sarcastically to prove how it isn’t working.
When Walgreens encouraged its customers to tweet about their great experiences with the company, the results were kind of sad. Never overestimate the loyalty of your clientele, I guess?
Metro Transit started a new campaign which was all about using public transportation and going green. Even though most of us aren’t in middle school anymore, it’s pretty much inevitable that with a hashtag like #doitonthebus, we’re not going to be thinking about environmentally friendly transit.
Speaking of dirty minds, this hashtag was to promote the Chester Literature Festival, but it sure didn’t translate that way on Twitter. You would think academics would foresee that kind of flaw in rhetoric. That’s an F for you, lit majors.
Luckily, sometimes hashtag fails happen for the greater good. #LGBTfacts stemmed from a bigoted Twitter account that was spewing factually wrong and offensive Tweets about the LGBT community. It wasn’t long before the Twitter scene solved that problem and began posting positive, real facts, and hilarious, ironic statements. Go, Internet!