The radio frequency identification (RFID) tags embedded in ID badges for this year’s New York Comic Con were used to spam attendees’ Twitter accounts the moment they walked into the Javits Center. The spam took the form of overly enthusiastic tweets like “#NYCC is the Best Four Days of my Year!” and “So much pop culture to digest! Can’t. handle. the. awesome.”, followed by a link to the NYCC page on Facebook. Attendees were not warned ahead of time about this, and the spamming was intentional.
ReedPop, the event organizer responsible for both the NYCC event and the spammy RFID tweeting scheme, tweeted a response when attendees complained. “FYI – do not fret if #NYCC-ID tweeted as you yesterday! We shut this opt-in feature off so it won’t happen anymore. Have a blast at NYCC!” A later, more extended apology read: “This was an opt-in function after signing in, but we were probably too enthusiastic in our messaging and eagerness to spread the good word about NYCC. We have since shut down this service completely and apologize for any perceived overstep.”
Although the NYCC was well received on the whole, the spam (and the ensuing lukewarm apologies by ReedPop) caused much fretting indeed. It is generally understand that if a customer is enthusiastic about a product, that enthusiasm should be allowed to drive the social media response, not an auto-tweet released on thousands of accounts. Even in the case of opt-in third-party tweeting, users are supposed to be amply notified ahead of time before anything is published.
The convention, first held in 2006, is one of the largest annual comic conventions in the US. Attendance in 2011 topped 100,000, and subsequent attendance figures could be even higher. The convention is all-things-go, embracing fans of a wide range of comic books, graphic novels, anime, manga, games, toys, film, and TV shows.