In an age in which people often find out through social media about protests being met with violence, unarmed people being shot to death by police, and terrorist bombings taking place at marathons, Call of Duty: Black Ops III marketers thought it’d be fun to pretend the game’s Twitter feed was breaking news about fictional bombings and upheaval in Singapore.
On Tuesday, the @callofduty Twitter account switched its name and icon to Current Events Agg., standing for “Current Events Aggregator,” and then went on to tweet as if it was a news media account. Tweets included things like:
BREAKING NEWS: Unconfirmed reports are coming in of an explosion on the North bank of the Singapore Marina.— Call of Duty (@CallofDuty) September 29, 2015
UPDATE: Singapore Authorities have officially announced a state of emergency and declared martial law.— Call of Duty (@CallofDuty) September 29, 2015
UPDATE: Riot police have dispersed rioting mobs to the southwest of Chinatown using LRAD sonic area control weapons. pic.twitter.com/yDHT2tnXzj— Call of Duty (@CallofDuty) September 29, 2015
The campaign wrapped up finally with a tweet stating, “This was a glimpse into the future fiction of #BlackOps3,” but it came a little late for people reacting, usually with no context because of the nature of retweeting, to tweets talking about quarantine zones, martial law, military drones and violence. Seems a lot of people weren’t happy with the fake news stunt, as this op-ed from Polygon demonstrates.
The Call of Duty account is back to normal now, and publisher Activision dropped a story trailer for the game this morning that actually makes it sound pretty cool. But yeesh, let’s maybe not tweet out-of-context descriptions of apparent terrorism next time we want to promote a game trailer, okay?