Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/06/24/habitat_twitter_ads/

UK retailer apologizes for faux Iran Tweets

Habitat's Mousavi gift card

By Cade Metz

Posted in Media, 24th June 2009 23:40 GMT

If you're among the many who've been searching Twitter for digital howls of revolution over the disputed Iranian presidential election, you may have turned up ads for UK furniture retailer Habitat.

Habitat has apologized for the houseware ads, which were tagged with words like "Iran" and "Mousavi." But it's not taking the blame.

As reported by the BBC and the AP, Habitat released a statement on Wednesday saying it "would like to make a very sincere apology to any users who were offended by last week's activity on Twitter." But the company also said that someone else did it.

"This was absolutely not authorized by Habitat," the statement read. "We were shocked when we discovered that happened and are very sorry for the offense that has been caused.

"This was totally against our communications strategy. We never sought to abuse Twitter, have removed the content, and will ensure this does not happen again."

One Habitat Tweet looked like this: "HabitatUK: #MOUSAVI Join the database for free to win a £1,000 gift card."

Mousavi would be Mir Hossein Mousavi, the Iranian reformist who lost out to incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the recent presidential election - an election heavily protested over Twitter and other so-called Web 2.0 services after the Ahmadinejad regime clamped down on other communications.

Habitat also piggybacked ads on familiar terms like "iPhone." The company claimed that Twitter's most popular keywords had been tossed into the ads without its knowledge. "The top ten trending topics were pasted into hashtags without checking with us and apparently without verifying what all of the tags referred to," the company said. But it didn't point to a culprit.

But whether Habitat is to blame or not, its Mousavi Tweets were hardly unique. And you can be sure they did little damage to that Twitter signal-to-noise ratio. Our latest search for "Iran" on the world's most popular Web2.0rhea service turned up this:

Making Money with New Microsoft Bing Search Engine. See Here http://binging.notlong.com Transformers 2 iphone Spain Iran

And this:

Transformers 2 Iran Socialize. Share. Discover. Create. http://bit.ly/16KDYQ

And this:

Need a Lawyer for Dui/Dwi See our for free! http://DuiA.notlong.com Tehran iphone AT&T Iran Mousavi Argentina Confederations Cup Spain

And we could go on. ®