On Tuesday afternoon, just as the week of the big-brand Twitter hack was getting as old as it was useful to the "victims," the Twitter feeds of BET and MTV — both owned by the media conglomerate Viacom — were "hacked." Except they weren't, in fact, hacked. They were stunt-hacked in a pre-planned, inter-office joke that turned into a viral marketing ploy gone bad.
On Monday hackers took to Burger King's Twitter feed in a fake McDonald's takeover that gained the brand 30,000 followers and a whole lot of social-media brand recognition, almost by accident. By midday Tuesday, Jeep had been "taken over" by hackers posing as Cadillac, and thousands of followers came with the very similar "attack." But the social-media teams at BET and MTV had already noticed the bump, and had some "fun" in store. "The hack was pre-planned in the spirit of corporate camaraderie with our sister network," a spokesperson for MTV told The Atlantic Wire.
But because this is Twitter and jokes last about a day, it didn't end up much fun for anyone involved — and because this is MTV, it definitely ended up in making the network look even more behind the times than usual.
We spotted this message (since deleted) from BET's "social media pugilist":
And there was this evidence, from an MTV marketing director's feed minutes before the reality-TV channel was hacked:
And have at these musings that MTV's social media manger, Tom Fischman, tweeted after Burger King was hacked yesterday:
Is there any real downside to the @burgerking hack? Mistake leaving the account suspended all day, would have seen a nice follower windfall.— Thomas Fishman (@Tom_Fishman) February 18, 2013
@mcbc Nobody thinks BK tweeted that stuff, doesn't really reflect on them at all. Just bought them a ton of publicity, sympathy if anything.— Thomas Fishman (@Tom_Fishman) February 18, 2013
The stunt certainly earned MTV and BET a bunch of publicity — like this post that you're reading! — but came with the price of Twitter's scorn ... and no real bump in followers to either feed, either up or down:
I knew MTV wasn't hacked when their content continued to still be complete crap.— Andrew Kaczynski (@BuzzFeedAndrew) February 19, 2013
It's days like today that make me hate the Internet.— Jared Keller (@jaredbkeller) February 19, 2013
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.