NY Comic Con Hijacks Attendees' Twitter Accounts, Issues Non-Apology Apology

from the super-villain dept

If anyone knows how to be polite, genteel, and appropriate, it's certainly me. That falsehood said, it's become increasingly difficult to keep up on what's considered polite and what isn't in this digital world. Still, one can try to keep up. So, after much trial and error, I now know it is not okay to take a dinner companion's phone when he's in the bathroom and use his Facebook app to vicariously profess his love for a mutual friend's wife. Likewise, thou shalt not turn absent co-workers' desktop backgrounds to photoshopped images of Martha Stewart's head on Hitler's body. You just don't do those things.

But even I don't require any practice to know that I shouldn't hijack my customers' Twitter accounts without their knowledge to pimp my own wares. Yet it seems this seemingly low-level of comprehension eluded the New York Comic Convention.
Fans, celebrities and press attending New York Comic Con on Thursday sent out laudatory tweets expressing excitement to be at the annual convention — or at least it looked like they did, as the tweets were published entirely without their permission or knowledge.

The tweets were tied to attendees' NYCC badges. This year, conference organizers Reedpop allowed people to pre-register their badges online. The badges have radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips that are tied to a user's identity in order to curb counterfeits. Attendees were then invited to connect their social-media accounts to their badge, although it wasn't explicitly stated that NYCC could post to Facebook or Twitter on their behalf. As people checked in to the convention on Thursday, many published tweets looked authentic (and were written in conversational language), but were not written by attendees.
Those tweets were basically ecstatic exclamations about how great the NYCC is, how excited the tweeter was about attending certain functions therein, and ostensibly about how the NYCC had simultaneously cured cancer and ended global terrorism as we know it. The point is that attendees, who may or may not have been as excited as their hijacked Twitter accounts suggested, weren't exactly pleased to find themselves being turned into ventriloquist dummies by the convention. Many of those same Twitter accounts that had been hijacked were suddenly tweeting back to the convention's Twitter account with angry complaints. As a result, the NYCC issued this statement:
As you may have seen yesterday, there were some posts to Twitter and Facebook issued by New York Comic Con on behalf of attendees after RFID badges were registered. This was an opt-in function after signing in, but we were probably too enthusiastic in our messaging and eagerness to spread the good word about NYCC. We have since shut down this service completely and apologize for any perceived overstep. Please accept our apologies and have an absolutely excellent time this weekend. -Your friends at NYCC
Allow me to translate this for you: "Since you didn't magically understand that this opt-in service doesn't involve us informing you of exactly what you're opting into, please accept our sardonic and barely sincere apology and just go read some comics or whatever." When the entire premise of your "apology" is a lie (it isn't opt-in when you hide what is being opted into), it loses the moniker of apology and will instead be identified as bullshit. Pretty ballsy when you consider that the convention goers, celebrity attendees, and those actually buying booths at the convention encompass approximately all your customers. Enjoy the publicity, NYCC!

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    S. T. Stone, Oct 11th, 2013 @ 3:27pm

    perceived overstep

    Ah, the wonders of weasel words never ceases to amaze me.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 11th, 2013 @ 3:30pm

    You'd think they'd offer a better apology considering that celebrities and press are not only unlikely to be happy with unauthorized tweets, but also have the means to make real headaches for the NYCC to express their displeasure.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 11th, 2013 @ 3:41pm

    ...maybe it's a problem with how we handle permissions in applications and online accounts?

    ...oh yes, before you may use this application... you must allow us to have total control of your phone and all of your online accounts... GEH HEH HEH...

    ...makes one wonder why AT&T's android application needs harbinger level access to view your bill...

    ...we are assuming direct control! LOL!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Oct 11th, 2013 @ 4:29pm

    If you're going to use social media

    Hasn't everyone learned by now? If you're going to use social media, do not tie your accounts to anything.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    That One Guy (profile), Oct 11th, 2013 @ 4:32pm


    It's simple enough, they don't see any problems with what they did(probably because their twitter accounts weren't hijacked to promote something), so they can't imagine why anyone else would consider their actions 'over the line'.

    Love this part of their excuse too: 'This was an opt-in function after signing in, but we were probably too enthusiastic in our messaging and eagerness to spread the good word about NYCC.'

    The 'good word' apparently being that those people who had connected their badges with their twitter accounts had, like it or not, known it or not, given the go-ahead to be turned into walking advertisements for the event, a tidbit of information I'm guessing they were less than upfront about when they suggesting the linking.

    So they were so excited about how great NYCC was, that they couldn't be bothered to tell those attending that they were going to forcefully use other people's twitter accounts to say just how 'exciting' the event was. As far as excuses go, that one doesn't even pass the laugh test.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Oct 11th, 2013 @ 4:34pm

    I may be out of date with this, but the last time something tried to attach to my account, Twitter popped up and said "This software wants to connect to your twitter account. It will be authorized to post tweets as you. Allow or Deny." Is this not a thing any more?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    Andrew Norton (profile), Oct 11th, 2013 @ 6:44pm

    Won't happen at Dragoncon

    This won't happen at Dragoncon. If it's proposed, myself, and the others at the EFForums track (http://eff.dragoncon.org) will gently 'correct' the error of their ways.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Oct 11th, 2013 @ 11:15pm

    Just because you can, rarely means you should.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2013 @ 2:09am

    Well, I have a great idea! How about Comic Con gives its victims twitter access in return, so that they can publish some tweets posing as the official Comic Con twitter feed?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    PaulT (profile), Oct 12th, 2013 @ 6:20am


    The way I'm reading this is that people connected their accounts but were unhappy about the way this was used. Most places that post on your wall/tweet for you are good about making it clear that it's an automated message or otherwise something you didn't personally write, so people tend to allow things.

    So, they would have allowed the connection when they first signed up, but didn't realise they'd be used to spam followers with fake messages purporting to be directly from them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Oct 12th, 2013 @ 7:52am

    "any perceived overstep"

    So this cons staff has a future with the NSA?
    Or maybe they are just falling in step with Bloombergs private army.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Rex, Oct 12th, 2013 @ 9:50am

    Oh really?

    My lawyer will be in touch.
    So, get out your checkbook.
    This is gonna hurt.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Jake, Oct 12th, 2013 @ 10:43am

    Just how devoted to getting in-character for your Snowflame cosplay do you have to be for this to seem like a good idea at the time? (Look him up.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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