Twitter fail: Bank of America 'bots' revealed as humans

19/07/2013

The Bank of America has run into criticism this month for using bots to reply to political criticisms on Twitter… only to reveal that the ‘bots’ were actually employees using a rather inflexible and irrelevant customer service script.

The news came to light when people criticising the bank on Twitter received replies from the official Bank of America account.

On a Saturday in early July, an activist in the Occupy movement using the Twitter handle @darthmarkh posted a tweet with a picture of him getting chased away from a BofA facility by cops in New York. He had just been chalking up the bank’s sidewalk with protest slogans.

Unfortunately for Bank of America, it failed to realise Occupy protesters weren’t looking for customer support on Twitter.

Rather than respond with a statement trying to improve its PR image as a cruel corporate that makes people homeless, the bank replied with the offer to “review your account with you to discuss any concerns,” in spite of the fact that these people mentioned absolutely nothing about having a Bank of America account.

After a few retweets by other Occupiers, there were also multiple Tweets from Bank of America stating, “I work for Bank of America. What happened? Anything I can do to help?” or point out that “We are here to help, listen, and learn from our customers and are glad to assist with any account related inquiries.”

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The automated responses lead many twitter users (and the press) to assume the Bank of America was using a program that automatically replies to tweets that mention it.

However, as technology blog Digiday uncovered, the Tweets were posted by genuine employees at the bank.

“All of our interactions are personal and handled by a team of over 100 social-media servicing representatives,” the bank wrote in a statement released to Digiday. ”We respond to mentions of the bank to help identify underlying customer issues in addition to direct requests for help.”

“Our social media servicing representatives have assisted thousands of customers though our Twitter service,” the bank wrote in its email.

Read the full Tweet session by Bank of America here

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