Is it funny to make jokes about serial killers, missing children and the victims of sexual abuse? That’s the question being asked after a National Lottery Twitter campaign was hijacked by online trolls eager to do all of the above.
Camelot is running a Twitter campaign for British Athletics that invites users to create posts in which famous athletes hold up boards saying their name.
Except, with this being Twitter, several users have taken it upon themselves to post offensive messages in place of their actual names.
Designed to highlight the funding athletes received from the national lottery, users were asked to retweet the National Lottery’s #Represent post celebrating athletes’ achievements.
Anyone who retweeted the message was rewarded with an automated thank you from athletes holding their name on a banner.
The problem arose when people started to change their names to things like “Saville is innocent”, “I have Maddie” and “Raoul Moat”.
Deceased BBC presenter Saville stands accused of hundreds of causes of sexual abuse against women and minors, while Madeline McCann disappeared from a holiday resort in Portugal back in 2007.
Raoul Moat, meanwhile, shot two people dead and left another blind during a rampage in Northumberland back in September 2011.
And yet, these were only the tip of the iceberg. Other messages included jokes about six-year-old cancer victim Bradley Lowery and the victims of the Hillsborough stadium disaster.
It begs the question, when does banter stop being so banterrific?
With so much to poke fun at in the world, why do some people feel the need to revisit some of the most horrific incidents in our society?
This isn’t even the first time this kind of thing has happened – a similar social media campaign run by Walkers and starring Gary Lineker encountered the same problems earlier this year.
The National Lottery has now taken steps to prevent further posts.
“We are aware that some people are maliciously targeting our British Athletics Twitter campaign with offensive and abhorrent content,” they said in a statement.
“We are dealing with this as quickly as possible and are hugely sorry for any offence caused by this malicious act.”
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Loaded staff writer Jack Beresford has produced content for Lad Bible, Axonn Media and a variety of online sports and news media outlets.