the chain gang

Twitter Suspends Fake McDonald’s Account That Conned People for 9 Months

Some Twitter users were legitimately concerned at first. Photo: Twitter

McDonald’s has found itself in a slightly embarrassing situation, after realizing a jokester effectively Punk’d Twitter users with a fake McDonald’s Hong Kong account for almost a year. And this was despite using a handle that for sure looked fishy, too — @Mc_DonaldsHK. (Notice the underscore; certain official accounts, like Brazil’s, use one to separate McDonald’s name from the geographic region they serve, but not as a bizarre divider between “Mc” and “Donald’s.”) It worked nonetheless, popping up last October and spending nine months biding its time: As Gizmodo noticed, tweets were entirely unremarkable at first, consisting of boring pablum like “Have a happy McHolidays!” and “Try our McSpicy Chicken Filet meal, new from the Extra Value Meals Menu!”

In fact, they were so unremarkable that @McDonaldsCorp — the official corporate account that’s weathered other recent embarrassments — actually tagged @Mc_DonaldsHK in several of its own responses to angry Hong Kong customers. In one, the corporate employee wrote, “Thanks for sharing your experience. Let’s bring our friends @Mc_DonaldsHK to assist.” (McDonald’s has locations in Hong Kong, but no official Twitter account for that region because internet users in China can’t access the service.)

On July 24, though, the account suddenly went rogue, tweeting this at an upset customer: “This bitch freakin out about cheesecake while kids out here McDying. relax.” Off-brand and in poor form, but the message sneaked by because nobody reads regional fast-food accounts’ Twitter replies. That allowed @Mc_DonaldsHK to return to product promotion as usual — at least until this weekend, when the individual managing the account started tweeting about suicide and losing their son and wife:

The cries for help weren’t funny at all, of course. Among them were “where is my son they took my son,” “I want to quit. she left me,” and the more disturbing, “please kill me i wish to die.” The mystery tweeter has yet to come forward, but McDonald’s shut down the public airing of their purported personal crisis in a hurry. “The Twitter account @Mc_DonaldsHK is not a McDonald’s account and we have reported it to Twitter,” a rep told the Washington Post. Whoever was behind the account clearly sensed they’d crossed a line — the handle soon morphed into @NotMcDonaldsHK, and the bio was changed to denote it was a parody account. Twitter suspended it anyway, although with Twitter being Twitter, several copycat accounts have already materialized to carry the silenced voice’s banner:

Fake McDonald’s Twitter Account Fooled People for 9 Months