The Burger King Debacle


This week I’ll be delving into the risks associated with social media and will be using Burger King as an example. As I discussed last week, organisations mainly use social media to further increase their popularity and promote their business to a larger market. However there are both advantages and disadvantages in doing this.  What many organisations oversee are the perks of using social media. They often focus primarily on the positive aspects of using Facebook and Twitter, as a source of marketing tool at their disposal, that they forget the implication it has if something goes wrong.

The Debacle

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Burger King is one of the largest fast food restaurants on the planet. With franchises all around the world and revenue of approximately $1.9 billion last financial year, Burger King is known to be a popular fast food outlet for many hungry burger cravers out there. Like other large organisations, Burger King utilises social media for promotions and free publicity. However early this year they got more than what they bargained for.  The company’s official Twitter feed was hacked by an anonymous group and their account was filled with images of McDonalds’s logo with a statement on the page saying “Just got sold to McDonalds because the whopper flopped, freedom is failure…In a hood near you”. In addition Burger Kings Twitter feed also announced the reason they sold to McDonalds was workers have been using drugs in the bathrooms and other offensive material. An hour later they regained control of the account and apologised to their followers and other members of the industry.


Out of the classification of risk associated with participation in social media sites, this debacle comes under the Statutory Risk and Reputation Risk. The brand itself was damaged along with their employee’s reputation. Legally speaking what precautions should have been taken? This is where good social media policy comes in. To prevent this from happening in the future they should be:

–       Engaging in various technological measures to protect against viral and malware threats

–       Having a system in place to respond to complaints on forums, sites and fan pages

–       Having a documented effective social media strategy in place

–       Prepared for a Crisis Management Plan to deal with a social media crisis

In this case none of the employees are to be blamed and it was just unfortunate for them that this happened. If we look at this situation in another perspective, for example in which negative comments was said by a Burger Urge employee in Twitter that was damaging to the company’s reputation, the person would have had to battle the case in court to clear his or her name. When it comes to social media there is always legal ramifications that takes place. In order to deal with these issues strong social media policies should be enforced in organisations everywhere.

On a lighter note…

Even though Burger King’s reputation decreased for not being able to secure their Twitter account properly, their popularity did however improve. Despite the debacle, within the first 30 minutes of the hack took place the account had 5000 new followers. Makes you wonder, was it all an act? I’ll let you be the judge of that. That’s all for now, hope you enjoyed the read and don’t forget to leave a comment.


Legal risks of social networking for business


10 thoughts on “The Burger King Debacle

  1. I do enjoy the Burger King Whopper but I had no idea that they were victim to an account hacking! Poor form hackers! I enjoyed you post this week – nice visuals. Perhaps you could include a YouTube clip of a Burger King commercial?

    • Hi Alex, glad you enjoyed the post! It wasn’t until i did some research I knew they were a victim to account hacking either. I’ll definitely take your advice on including a YouTube clip!

  2. Hi There Darrentt94,

    This is one i had not heard about. it is certain that companies wanting to use social media should be prepared for this kind of event. do you also think that burger king has any social media policies in place to help prevent the staff from using their profiles incorrectly (accidental or on purpose)?

    Matthew Andarakis.

    • Hi Matthew, you would think they would be more careful about their twitter account. I couldn’t find any sources regarding their social media policies but i’m guessing a large organisation as BK would have policies in place to prevent the staff using their profiles incorrectly, especially after what has happened.

  3. Agreed with Alex, and seems like you’ve put a clip there in your post. Looks good 🙂
    I’ve never heard of this case before.. And yeah, it can actually be an act to gain more follower? That’s a very interesting way though..

  4. Very good post Darren, enjoyed it, next time, maybe instead of referencing dundas lawyers on the bottom, you can embed the reference through hyperlinks how you have done with the burgerking website etc, it makes the blog post smoother, and that way you dont need a reference list at the bottom 😛 please stop by my blog when you have time.

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