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Real #fakenews

Kate Welsh
August 07, 2017

Users of the notoriously troll-saturated website 4chan recently released fake Starbucks ads to promote "Starbucks Dreamer Day" on August 11. A totally fabricated event, Starbucks Dreamer Day offers undocumented immigrants 40 percent off "any item on the Starbucks menu" and promotes other offers like "a free frappacino" [sic] or "a free Grande cold beverage." According to screengrabs of a 4chan forum collected by Buzzfeed, one user wrote, "The plan is to meme into existence a day where Starbucks is supposed to give free coffee to 'undocumented Americans' and then alert ICE for the Round up [sic]. Even if it doesn't work it will still be a good publicity scare." More simply: 4chan users wanted to use a fake Starbucks offer as a means to identify and arrest undocumented immigrants. 

As Esther Yu Hsi Lee points out at ThinkProgress, the fake Starbucks ad is especially harmful for promoting the idea "that undocumented immigrants are takers and not makers in the United States," and it uses the frightening reality of Trump's anti-immigration legislation and rhetoric as a scare tactic. 

Upon seeing this news spread around social channels, Starbucks has done its best to communicate that this is not their doing. They've responded directly to some people on Twitter, tweeting "This is completely false. Starbucks is not sponsoring any such event. Please do not spread misinformation." Over the weekend, the senior vice president of global communication told the Associated Press that the rumor is "one hundred perfect fake." They told Buzzfeed they were investigating who created the false advertisement. 

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For their part, Starbucks is no stranger to pushback from right-wing communities. In January, Starbucks announced their intention to hire 10,000 refugees in the 75 countries where they operate over the next five years. Supporters of anti-immigration laws pushed back, asking people to boycott Starbucks and even sell stock in the coffee company. Starbucks' former CEO Howard Schulz stepped down after the uproar, but his legacy of supporting humanitarian efforts is well-known. 

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