Store Used Phony Iran Tweets to Boost Sales - NBC Bay Area

Store Used Phony Iran Tweets to Boost Sales

Put protest references on Twitter to drive web traffic



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    Habitat tweets that "140 characters aren't enough for a full apology."

    A British furniture store sank to a new low, exploiting the unrest in Iran by sprinkling gratuitous protest references in its advertising tweets.

    Habitat, which uses its Twitter page to share news like, "Acrylic pendant light. Available in magenta and smoke," began using search terms like "Iran" and "Mousavi" to drive traffic to their site last week. The sick strategy came as people all around  the world hungered for any communications coming out of Iran, where the government is waging a violent crackdown on citizens in the wake of a disputed election.

    The chain used the Iran-specific terms as hashtags, or words within the text that facilitate searches, according to MSNBC.

    While the company has removed all questionable tweets, some bloggers and news agencies like the BBC grabbed the messages while they were up and posted them for the world to see. Here's an example: "HabitatUK: #MOUSAVI Join the database for free to win a £1,000 gift card."

    The messages stirred up Twitter outrage and Habitat responded.

    "This was absolutely not authorized by Habitat," the company said in a message linked to its Twitter page. "We were shocked when we discovered what happened and are very sorry for the offense that was caused."

    Habitat threw a lowly intern under the bus to explain away the cyber scandal.

    "The hashtags were uploaded without Habitat's authorization by an overenthusiastic intern who did not fully understand the ramifications of his actions," a spokesman told Sky News. "He is no longer associated with Habitat."