- Fake free Starbucks coupons for customers of “African-American heritage” are circulating on social media.
- Controversial website 4chan seems to be the source of the hoax, with coupons containing hidden racial slurs and white-supremacist messages.
- Starbucks told Business Insider that the coupons are “completely false.”
- Starbucks is closing all US stores on May 29 to “conduct racial-bias education” for workers after two black men were arrested in a Philadelphia location.
Internet trolls are distributing fake coupons for black people to get free coffee at Starbucks.
On Tuesday, Starbucks announced plans to close all its stores nationwide in the wake of an incident in which two black men were arrested at a Philadelphia location.
Soon after, fake coupons began circulating on social media, promising free drinks for “people of colour” or customers of “African-American heritage.”
“This is completely false and in no way associated with Starbucks,” a Starbucks representative told Business Insider in an email.
“The best dialogue starts over a cup of coffee and we’d like to buy you one,” reads one fake flyer, with the coupon stating it is limited “to persons of African American heritage and/or identity at time of exchange.”
Baristas are instructed to use discount code 1488, the combination of two numbers that have become symbols of white supremacy. The QR code for the coupon links to a website page that translates the code as the n-word.
Among the accounts sharing the fake coupon were Gab, a social network known for its popularity among far-right figures that have been banned from other platforms, and Daryush “Roosh V” Valizadeh, a controversial pick-up artist and blogger.
The hoax seems to have originated from 4chan’s Politically Incorrect message board, /pol/. The website gained a degree of notoriety during the 2016 presidential election for spreading pro-Trump memes and fake news, including messages that encouraged Hillary Clinton supporters to vote via text message.
This isn’t the first time 4chan has targeted Starbucks for a viral hoax. In 2017, the website created fake coupons that claimed to promote “Starbucks DREAMer Day” by giving discounts to undocumented immigrants.
On Tuesday, Starbucks announced it plans to close its more than 8,000 locations in the US for the afternoon of May 29 to “conduct racial-bias education geared toward preventing discrimination in our stores.” The training will cover topics such as “implicit bias” and “conscious inclusion.”
The decision to close stores for a training comes after footage of two black men being arrested at a Philadelphia location of the coffee chain went viral. Employees called the police when the men refused to leave the Starbucks after asking to use the restroom without having purchased any drinks.
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