The Canadiens decided to celebrate that their Twitter account surpassed the one million follower mark.
In principle, it was an interesting idea.
They started to automatically tweet out contest passwords and custom jersey avatars to anyone that replied with a certain hashtag. Unfortunately, it went horribly wrong, as people created troll accounts to take advantage of the automated system sending out mass tweets.
Of course, the racist accounts started showing up, and the celebration turned into a disaster.
It's worth noting that this isn't the first time a social media campaign has backfired. The Patriots had the exact same problem when they celebrated one million followers. The Leafs attempted to engage their fan base last season, and again the internet trolls took advantage of the situation.
The moral of the story? Never let the terrible people of the internet have any sort of control. Also, Twitter doesn't care how many racist accounts are created, apparently.
People have been quick to call for someone, anyone's head, but at the same time we have to keep in mind that while this was a mistake, and a big one at that, it's not worth putting someone's livelihood on the line. Some foresight was clearly needed, and I am sure the Habs will learn from this failed experiment, just as others have before them, but mob justice never does any good.
Update: It turns out that human error on the part of the third-party service provider was to blame for the entire fiasco.
Today, for the first time, we’ve failed one of our clients: the Montreal Canadiens. We are really sad about it and we want to extend our apology to them, their fans and anybody who might have been offended by this. The @CanadiensMTL team reached 1M followers on Twitter yesterday and to celebrate this special occasion, they trusted us to set up an Auto Response Twitter campaign to deliver personalized jerseys to their fans. In this case, our agency team was asked to be in charge of the Setup and, regrettably, we did it wrong. Due to human error in the configuration, we failed to activate a filter in our product, which takes care of rejecting offensive or abusive content.