The country woke up to scary news on Wednesday. A gunman had opened fire on a Congressional baseball practice, injuring House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and several others. A catastrophic fire in London had killed at least six people. And Twitter sponsored trending section had decided to promote a very unfortunate hashtag: #HappyDeathDay.
Oh, there’s was a custom emoji that went with the hashtag, too:
These are all unfortunate events. One must assume that #HappyDeathDay had been booked and scheduled for some time by Twitter’s ad sales team. (It’s actually a promotion for the new Friday the 13th film.) Nobody could have expected not one but two incredibly tragic events to coincide with the ad campaign. Then again, is any day on planet Earth the right day to run with the hashtag #HappyDeathDay (plus bloody knife in cake emoji)?
By about Monday morning at 8:30 am EST, the hashtag no longer appeared in the trending column. This was approximately 20 minutes after news broke that Scalise and others were shot at a congressional baseball practice. At that point in time, however, news of the tower fire in London was already several hours old. Many people had already died, but Twitter was still celebrating #HappyDeathDay. It’s unclear why the promotion wasn’t pulled sooner.
One thing is definitely clear: Twitter users did not appreciate the timing of #HappyDeathDay. Plenty of people expressed dismay as they noticed the hashtag among trending topics like “Alexandria,” where the shooting took place, or “Grenfell Tower,” where the deadly fire took place. Here’s a small sampling of the immediate outrage:
We’ve reached out to Twitter to learn more about the #HappyDeathDay promotion as well as why the company didn’t pull the campaign as soon as other very deadly events were trending. We’ll update this post when we hear back. In the meantime, let’s maybe skip that hashtag for today and every day in the future.