The team behind Wikipedia is not happy...and that's an understatement.
There are a few people (or, well, entities) you really don’t want to get in a fight with. "All nternet users" top the list. You probably also want to keep out trouble with the head honchos over at Google. And it might not be wise to mess with the managers of Wikipedia, either.
Now, we can’t tell whether we’re horrified or just thoroughly impressed that Burger King managed to anger all three.
Last week, the fast food chain released a commercial that intentionally interacted with the Google Home devices of at-home viewers. “OK, Google,” the actor in the ad says in a statement meant to trigger Google Home devices. “What is the Whopper burger?”
The prompt directed viewers’ devices to “read” the Wikipedia page for the Whopper, which had, at first, been favorably edited by corporate Burger King employees with an added ingredient list. (At least, that’s the word on the street after it got out that the editor in question was Wikipedia user "Fermachado123." The name of Burger King’s senior VP for global brand management is "Fernando Machado.")
It wasn't long before Internet trolls joined the party, adding things like “100% medium-sized child” and “cyanide” to the ingredient list.
Not exactly a “win” for Burger King. Just a few hours after the commercial first aired, the Google Home device mysteriously stopped getting triggered in what many believe was a retaliation effort by Google HQ. That remains unconfirmed.
The more serious retaliation came from Wikipedia, who posted an open letter to Burger King on their website.
“We, as editors on Wikipedia, strongly protest the actions of Burger King Corporation with respect to Wikipedia,” the group of editors wrote. “It appears from news coverage and our own investigations that Burger King employees edited Wikipedia in violation of our policies, as part of an advertising campaign authorized by Burger King management.”
The letter goes on to note that Burger King “not only attempted to misuse the resources offered by Wikipedia, but…wasted our time by making these measures necessary,” and that the Wikipedia team views these and other “corporate actions” in an unfavorable light.
“We hope and believe that members of the public will view this incident as we do, as a cynical attempt to promote Burger King products by deception and misappropriating the property of others.”
They closed by requesting that Burger King Corporation issue a public response.