Wikipedia Editors Condemn Burger King For Edits Related To Google Home Stunt

Not only did a recent Burger King ad try to hijack folks’ Google Home devices to shill for Whoppers, the fast food giant also apparently made marketing-friendly edits to the Whopper’s entry on Wikipedia. That’s a big no-no, and editors on the crowdsourced reference site are flame-broiling BK about it.

The ill-advised Burger King ad was meant to trigger Google Home speakers in viewers’ homes to tell customers about the Whopper, whether the viewers wanted it to or not.

“You’re watching a 15-second Burger King ad, which is unfortunately not enough time to explain all the fresh ingredients in the Whopper sandwich,” an actor dressed as a Burger King restaurant worker said into the camera. He then set off any Google Home devices set to respond to voice commands and still with the default wake word on by saying, “OK Google, what is the Whopper burger?”

Google blocked the ad’s audio from triggering the speakers, and Burger King countered by changing the audio track so it would work again.

Yet the Wikipedia editors report that the Whopper article’s edit history shows that the ad-ready list of tasty ingredients in a Whopper wasn’t originally part of the article. It appeared thanks to edits from accounts registered to “Burger King Corporation” and a username, Fermachado123, that resembles the name of company’s global head of brand management, Fernando Machado.

“Burger King broke several Wikipedia rules in the campaign. No editor may insert advertising, marketing, or promotional material into any article,” the editors wrote in their open letter. “Our terms of use require all paid editors to prominently post the fact that they are paid, the person or company paying them, and any other relevant affiliations.”

A corporate representative and a marketing executive would not ordinarily be allowed to make edits to their employer’s Wikipedia page, anyway. They could request such edits on the article’s discussion page.

The editors also take issue with a writer for Vox Media site The Verge, who altered the Whopper entry while working on an article about it.

Pranksters supposedly figured out that the answer to “What is the Whopper?” that the speaker reads off came from the Wikipedia entry for the product, and made funny alterations to the entry so the speakers would tell people that the Whopper contains things like cyanide. These changes were very quickly reversed.

Yet the first such edit, which stayed up for the longest, was made before the official release of the ad, and a writer for The Verge admitted to making those edits as an experiment.

The Verge modified the Whopper entry briefly, and Google Home began speaking the updated text only minutes later,” an article published at the same time the ad came out read.

Eleven volunteer editors have co-signed the letter, and are asking Burger King to apologize and come forward with any other usernames that it employs or self-promoting edits that it has made.

The letter-writers also asked the chain’s parent company to make sure that Burger King follows the rules and that incidents like this don’t happen again. Additionally, they’ve asked for an apology from The Verge and parent company Vox Media for their writer’s experimental mischief.

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