Microsoft’s Bing apologized Saturday for a tweet related to its efforts to raise money for Japan’s earthquake and tsunami victims.
Bing set off a lively debate on Twitter when it tweeted earlier today that it would donate up to $100,000 to Japan earthquake relief efforts. In that initial tweet, Bing said it would donate $1 for every retweet of its pledge and it linked to a Microsoft corporate citizenship microsite. There, Microsoft described what it’s doing to help customers and partners in Japan and it also identified organizations, such as Red Cross and NetHope, that are assisting victims in the country.
In its apology tweet, Bing said it donated $100,000, apparently putting an immediate end to its Twitter fundraising effort.
Critics said the company crossed the line and implied the company was exploiting the tragic events in Japan.
“Micro$oft’s money-grubbing Tweet re Japan’s tragedy is beyond crass & deserves the online outrage it sparked,” tweeted Gary Patton, who describes himself as a people development coach.
Tweeted copywriter and editor Meakin Armstrong: “Marketing and tragedy don’t go hand-in-hand: @bing lamely apologized for its ‘negatively perceived’ tweet.”
Others supported Bing’s effort, including TV personality Ryan Seacrest. Some lashed out at Bing’s critics.
Veronica Wei Sopher, @shih_wei, tweeted, “Gotta love those who spend time+energy to criticize @bing’s tweet, instead of actually doing something to help.”
“[I]t wasn’t negatively perceived by me. I gladly retweeted. who was getting grouchy about it? so called social media experts?” asked Christine Lu on Twitter.
Besides the Twitter campaign, Bing took another approach that connected the search engine to events in Japan. A search for “Japan earthquake” on Saturday morning turned up paid search ads on Google for Bing; those ads linked to Bing and MSN.com coverage of the earthquake.