Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Mexico: Social Media Outrage Over Offensive Missing Student Tweets

Social media has been beneficial for businesses looking to promote their brand, increase sales and gain an advantage above their competitors.  But it can also be a double-edged sword for companies that either inadvertently or purposefully post controversial messages in the aftermath of tragedies. This is a lesson that at least two Mexican companies faced after publishing a tweet alluding to the possible massacre forty-three students.

As seen above, the original message posted Sunday just after midnight on the twitter account for Mexico’s Nestlé Crunch roughly translates to “We Crunched the ones from Ayotzinapa.” The offending tweet was removed approximately two-and-a-half hours later and Nestlé apologized in four subsequent tweets.

“We regret for the recently published content and offer our deepest apologies. We are united with the families (of the disappeared)…and extend our apology to all of the brands affected by this bad joke,” read some of the content tweeted by Nestlé. Yet another message alleged that the Twitter account was hacked and that Nestlé was going to take all measures to prevent future infiltration.  This excuse did not sit well with some netizens who voiced their anger at the candy company.

“Hahahaha ‘we were hacked’ hahaha,” “You finally got what you wanted … to make some noise” and “I will never again buy your product…and I hope you fire the idiot (behind the tweet)” were just some of the messages left behind by indignant social media users to the Mexican Nestlé Crunch twitter account.

Mario Vera, vice president for communications of Nestlé in Mexico, later told the press that the company would investigate if the “offensive message” came from someone within Nestlé or via a hacker.

Meanwhile, a Mexico City pizzeria belonging to the 50 friends chain of eateries also came under fire following an insulting tweet regarding the missing and reportedly murdered students.

“#AccionGlobalporAyotzinapa waits for their sons while we hope to deliver our pizzas. Quit making us close our store,” read the message that also alluded to some unrest during demonstrations in the Mexican capital. Much like Nestlé, 50 friends issued a statement apologizing for the tweet but unlike the confectionary giant the pizza chain did not blame the actions on supposed hackers.  Rather, the store’s owner and cashier lost their jobs after the former illegally allowed access to the pizzeria Twitter account to the latter.

Social media has also played a role in street protests and other demonstrations over the investigation into the whereabouts of the forty-three students. Mexican Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam uttered “I’ve had enough” at the end of a Friday press conference where he detailed the apparent massacre of the Ayotzinapa students. What may have been a throwaway comment has transformed into a rallying cry:
Murillo's words have gone viral, with #YaMeCanse and #estoycansado (I'm tired) among the most trending hashtags on Twitter in Mexico.
Protesters who have railed against the government's handling of the case sprayed the phrase "I've had enough .. of fear" on the entrance of the Attorney General's office overnight.

Many Tweeters said that like Murillo, they were tired – but of impunity, injustice and corrupt politicians.

Some tweeted that if Murillo was so tired, he should resign.

One Tweet juxtaposed a picture of Murillo stamped with his refrain, next to a photo of President Enrique Pena Nieto emblazoned with the phrase: "I'm off to China".
Pena Nieto, who has sought to shift public attention off grisly gang violence and onto a raft of economic reforms, is due to make a state visit to China next week to woo investment.
Online Sources – Twitter; La Prensa de Honduras; El Popular; NBC News; CNN Expansión; BBC News; The Latin Americanist; Forbes; The Wire

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