Facepalm: The Facebook Messenger team inadvertently posted a private Facebook user’s account in a promotion for an HBO Westworld bot on Twitter. The tweet was removed, but not before it had been up for a couple of hours.
“Meet Tes, the host of the new @WestwordHBO experience on Messenger,” the tweet read. “Chat with her and become a #Westworld Elite Status member to unlock exclusive updates and more: m.me/westworld.”
Unfortunately, the Messenger address given does not belong to a bot named Tes, nor is it affiliated with HBO at all. It actually belongs to a woman in Kentucky named Lisa West.
Facebook Messenger about to destroy the inbox of a random women from Kentucky?— Matt Navarra (@MattNavarra) May 29, 2018
They sent this tweet about Westworld, but the link takes you to a regular FB user called Lisa… Not a Westworld bot?!
A Twitter user discovered the discrepancy and posted the error saying, “Facebook Messenger about to destroy the inbox of a random woman from Kentucky?”
Fortunately, Facebook quickly removed the tweet and replaced it with the correct address, which is m.me/westworldHBO.
TechCrunch contacted Lisa about the incident and was informed that she wasn’t slammed with messages. She claims that she only received about 20 texts and they were all filtered as “message requests,” as per Facebook filtering of unsolicited messages, which she just easily declined.
Meet Tes, the host of the new @WestworldHBO experience on Messenger. Chat with her and become a #Westworld Elite Status member to unlock exclusive updates and more: https://t.co/FaUWwsvCsz pic.twitter.com/YBfwOlHYFh— Messenger (@messenger) May 29, 2018
Facebook apologized to her personally, but she was in good humor over the whole faux pas. “Guess that’s what I get for calling my home Westworld,” Lisa said.
In addition to apologizing to Lisa personally, Facebook confirmed the mistake and publicly apologized for the confusion in a statement.
“For a short time this morning, a tweet from the Messenger Twitter account incorrectly linked people to message an individual person, instead of the intended bot for Messenger. As soon as we became aware of the error, we immediately corrected it. We’re very sorry for any trouble or confusion this caused.”
The lesson here: check your address before you post. I frequently tweet my articles using the @ tag (@fbnewsroom for example) to alert relevant entities. However, I always check first to be sure the tag I'm using is for an official account. Perhaps Facebook Messenger should adopt a similar policy.