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Apparently, You Can Get 'White Lives Matter' or 'I am Hitler' On a Personalized Coca-Cola Bottle

by Rudy Sanchez on 06/25/2021 | 2 Minute Read

One way to seriously engage with consumers is to give them some personalization options, and technology has made it easier for brands to customize items such as labels and packaging. Building on the popularity of its “Share a Coke” packaging, the firm now offers personalizable 8oz glass bottles with one of 15 backgrounds.

It being the internet and people being what they are, it’s hard to fault Coca-Cola for putting in place measures to prevent abuse of the “Share a Coke” offerings, adding foul or offensive language and messages to its squeaky-clean corporate visage. However, it didn’t take long for folks to put Coca-Cola’s censorware through its paces, finding terms like “White Lives Matter” getting through, while others like “Black Lives Matter” being met with an error message, according to CNN Business

Editorial photograph

Other inconsistencies include an optional rainbow flag background, but the term “Gay Pride” is blocked by the “Share a Coke” filters. The words “Nazi” and “Hitler” are also prevented unless it gets used in the phrase “I am a Nazi” or “I am Hitler.”

"We're continuously refining and improving our Share A Coke personalization tool to ensure it is used only for its intended purpose," a Coca-Cola spokesperson told CNN Business. "Words or phrases that have appeared in the preview mode of the tool may not necessarily be approved, but rather are words we have not previously assessed.”

“Actual bottles are not made with words that are inconsistent with the program's intent,” they added. “We have clarified in the tool's preview mode that proposed language may require further review."

Trying to reign in the internet collective’s speech is no easy task, a primrose path fraught with inevitable failure. Censoring technology and content filters are nothing new, and get informed by the biases of those that create them. These inherent predispositions can sometimes manifest themselves, like when “Black Lives Matter” gets snared in the censor net for being “racial” and “political” while “White Lives Matter” is missed. LGBTQ content, regardless of intent, is often a victim of censorware filters. Other unintended consequences of the “Scunthorpe problem” can prevent people with surnames like Wiener from registering for an online service or cause problems for residents of towns like Penistone and Clitheroe.

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