Old Navy Ad comes under attack

Old Navy Tweets sets off racist firestorm

So the seemingly harmless tweet above was trolled very hard and specifically. Causing us to note, but also finding it had longevity beyond just the day  it happened (a weekend, so went largely unnoticed or unreported upon) and today sees it trending again for being called out by Senator & former Presidential hopeful John McCain’s son.

Jack McCain fires back on Social Media:

These are but a smattering of the vile responses the original tweet provoked:

And making the full rounds by being reported on by the Beltway’s paper of record:

+Commentary: This entire story arc is very admirable, but we’re not so sure that the original tweeters weren’t in so many ways just trying to get this attention. They are part of what is affectionately known as Dog/Flag AVI Twitter. Willing to say & stir any pot no matter how charged because they in fact get off on roiling up people into a tizzy over nothing. That doesn’t mean we should forget/forgive or move on, but this is just one rather high profile incident, where two rather insular entities (Old Navy Brand & son of a Senator) lose very little in being on the ‘right side of history’ or the miscegenation battle (we thought long solved in 1968 Loving v Loving) since we are so post-racial now. *obvious snark* 

Yet since we mentioned it yesterday as part of our both critique & defense of Twitter, it should be highlighted this thing happens daily to people who are doing nothing more than existing on Twitter, or looking to diversify their staff, or just remarking on the weather if we are completely honest. That this is the crux of the debate as to whether Twitter can survive, it both shows us our ugliness in our interactions, and how only the insulated like Deray can survive or thrive in it. Like the media elite who use it daily, and are impervious on some level as they know all this rage and anger will fuel even more of what they seem to prize: TRAFFIC.

While blithely ignoring that someone who suffers under the weight of such excoriation by the masses will not want to ever use your product, app, or brand again. Nor mind you will the people who love them through the doxxing, release of sensitive photos and information, and the constant barrage. Everyday is a new person we see who is fed up. Some leave, take a break, and come back, but the 300m they do have as MAUs, how many are bots? Makes you go hmmmm.

So this dwindling pool, lack of transparency (we are guessing it is around 5% that make all the noise, get all the interactions and impressions), and clear lack of tools to stop this sort of thing from happening regularly. The people in those replies should & could be banned for life. That is draconian, it is an affront to everything we hold dear, but if they are doing this all as a way of gaining the attention our tabloid-reality TV era tells them is necessary to get noticed, then there has to be a penalty. Perhaps banning is harsh, uncalled for, undemocratic. But guess what so is Twitter.

This has to be a part of the design, and the most marginalized voices need to be at the table to address it. Not just the thirty organizations you align to give yourself the veneer of Corporate Responsibility, but real users. Real activists, who are able to subvert and call attention to the process, but hardly make a dent in the grand scheme of things. Unless you think coverage on the nightly news as a tweetstorm counts.

It doesn’t help the broken lives. It doesn’t fix the system. The system continues to profit off of it, and roils with an ever evolving #ExposureTrolling paradigm where you gain relevancy by being the one who stirs the most resentment. Even if that tab is hate-closed before fully loading. They can tell their advertisers you saw that page. The system isn’t broken if the tech journalists don’t think so, and since they are part of the problem we also can’t expect them to recognize a solution. Institutional Bias.

Tomorrow we’ll highlight, and all week, these small stories that are indicative of the problem as a whole, and the smaller you are, the more you need to be prepared & plan for this. Which isn’t to say you have to be bland & boring, or resort to “testing” sketchy social media, no it means if you are going to be yourself & bold, you are going to have to know that many out there will try to make you sorry you did. Yet with some careful planning you can slide past the most common pitfalls, and should always know when to call in a pro.