ABC affiliate WPLG Local 10's website has crossed over to the dark side. Apparently, hungry for pageviews, the station posted a slide show featuring photos from a recent Star Wars convention, complete with mocking captions like "Dateless men for as far as the eye can see."
Star Wars fans didn't appreciate the mockery and accused the station of cyber-bullying across blogs, Change.org, Twitter, and Facebook. So the station deleted the slide show and posted a half-hearted apology on Facebook. Then Local 10 deleted the apology after fans complained it didn't seem sincere, and then it deleted a bunch of negative Facebook comments. This is basically a masterclass in how not to deal with web outrage.
PinkSith.com caught wind that the station posted a bunch of picture of attendees of the recent Star Wars Celebration 6 in Orlando, Florida, complete with mocking captions such as these:
"Being a Star Wars geek pretty much means you'll get no lovin'... being a Star Wars geek that wears these pajamas guarantees it."
"These were a group of guys that spent the entire weekend jumping in to other people's pictures. It was MUCH lamer than it sounds."
"Poor kids... they were never given a chance. Geekdom is in their genes."
"Here's a shocker... it's dudes taking pics of the fake Princess Leias. Like they've never seen a woman before. Well, hmmm..."
"A reproduction of their prom picture... no girls."
"Dateless men for as far as they eye can see. "
The slide show then incited a war between Star Wars fans and the Miami news station.
A Change.org petition asking for an apology was launched.
Then camethe tweets
-- Kyle Newman (@kyle_newman) September 5, 2012
So apparently @wplglocal10 thinks it's OK to mock and bully Star Wars fans with sexist and/or demeaning photo captions. What jerks.
-- Laura Keeney (@onnabugeisha) September 5, 2012
Wow, @wplglocal10: was your photo gallery about Star Wars Celebration supposed to be funny? I found it to be meanand tasteless.
-- Amy Ratcliffe (@amy_geek) September 5, 2012
The slide show was then taken down, and this apology was posted on Facebook:
"GOOD NEWS (or BAD NEWS... depending on where you sided). The infamous STAR WARS slideshow has been taken down.
For those offended (and let us know), sorry.
For those who enjoyed it (and let us know), sorry.
Remember... the force will be with you... always."
As detailed on PinkSith, the station then deleted the apology after receiving complaints that it didn't seem sincere, and also admitted it deleted user comments:
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
We guess there are two lessons here: Don't cyber-bully geeks if you're a professional news organization, and don't post unfunny, lazy, pageview-baiting shit in the first place.