Gap (NYSE: GPS) has become the target of an elaborate online hoax, carried out by an activist group trying to embarrass the retailer into providing safer working conditions.
The group, 18MillionRising, claims that Gap has yet to sign an agreement committing to improved working conditions in Bangladesh, following a factory fire that killed 112 workers.
The website established, gapdoesmore.com, has been removed. Prior to being taken down, the site featured a phony press release which claimed the brand would be signing the Accord on Fire and Building Safety for better working conditions in Bangladesh and compensating those affected in the Aswad Composite Mills fire in October 2013. The press release was sent out to the media, with the group posing as the giant clothing retailer, and a false Twitter account (@GapDoesMore) was also established.
The activist group claimed responsibility for the hoax, which occurred during Gap's shareholder meeting in San Francisco.
A few hours after the phony campaign was discovered, Gap issued a statement stating it had "recently discovered a fraudulent website and its accompanying social media property." The company warned that the sites were not authorized by Gap and stated that they were investigating the source of "these fake digital properties."
Gap is actually a founding member of the Accord's U.S. counterpart, the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, and had no direct link to the Bangladesh factory in question. Gap also has made a contribution to the Donor Trust Fund to help toward its goal of distributing $40 million in reparations.
On Wednesday afternoon, 18MillionRising sent out a tweet on its own Twitter account, reading: "We've been DMCA'd! Gap can't take a little activist parody apparently."
The tweet referred to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, which allows companies to contact Internet service providers in writing about infringing websites and request that they remove all infringement material. If the Internet service providers do not comply with the written notice, they could be charged with legal fines for violating the DMCA.
-See this Forbes article
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