Gap Inc. has become the target of an elaborate online hoax, carried out by online activist group 18MillionRising.org,which claimed that Gap had signed the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh and intended to pay out 200,000 dollars in compensation.
During the Gap Inc. shareholder meeting in San Francisco earlier this week, the online activist group launched a campaign against Gap for “failing to uphold its responsibility to the factory workers in Bangladesh.” A fake website was established at www.gapdoesmore.com, a false twitter account (@GapDoesMore) was set up and a press release was sent out to the media, with the group posing as the giant clothing retailer.
A few hours after the online activist group launched its campaign, Gap.Inc 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 Inc. and stated that they were investigating the source of “these fake digital properties.”
Both the false twitter account and website have been shut down. 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.”
Following the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, companies are able 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.
In a blogpost on its site, the online activist group accuses Gap Inc. of going out of its way to “villainize a small non-profit organization with a staff of only three”. 18MillionRising also question why a company which makes billions of dollars a year “cannot manage to compensate for seven lives lost” and continue to refuse to sign the Bangladesh Accord.
“This is not about a hoax on the company, it’s about justice for the workers who make the company possible. Gap Inc. has refused so far to 'do more' for the most vulnerable workers in its supply chain, so now we are demanding more," stated the group.
Gap Inc. is currently part of a separate industry initiative, Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, which lists members such as VF Corporation and Wal-Mart. However, for the past year labor group have been pushing Gap and other members of the alliance to sign the European-led Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, as its five year plan involves global union leaders.