Even by the standards of social media fiascos, this one’s a doozy. On Monday, Burger King’s official Twitter feed announced the chain had been sold to its rival and began posting pro-McDonald’s messages and tales of employee drug use.
The strange Twitter activity took place after hackers apparently took control of Burger King’s account and replaced its name and image with the McDonald’s logo. Here is a screenshot of what followers of @burgerking saw on Monday:
The blue checkmark beside the @burgerking name indicate that this is indeed Burger King’s official Twitter account. Other tweets included:
— McDonalds (@BurgerKing) February 18, 2013
It’s unclear who is behind the mischief but the tweets’ references to “lulz’ and “@youranonnews” suggest the hacker collective Anonymous is involved.
Meanwhile, regular Twitter users are having a merry time speculating on how this may have happened:
— Jeff Scott (@jeffscott) February 18, 2013
It’s accepted as common wisdom for big brands to have an active presence on social media but this incident shows how things can go very wrong. Previous Twitter disasters involve McDonald’s buying a sponsored hashtag to promote “McDStories” only to see users tell tales of gross food and alleged animal cruelty.
As of early Monday afternoon Eastern Time, the Burger King account was still under control of the hackers.
Update: At 1:15 ET, Twitter said the account had been suspended. As Frank Reed notes in the comments below, the incident may not be all bad it’s given Burger King more publicity than it’s had in a long time. And, as a hacker account notes:
With @BurgerKing getting hacked they got a 30% rase in followers, remember to unfollow.
— Anonymous (@YourAnonNews) February 18, 2013
As for McDonald’s, the company offered this response:
We empathize with our @BurgerKing counterparts. Rest assured, we had nothing to do with the hacking.
— McDonald's (@McDonalds) February 18, 2013