This week, Twitter users have shared photos of funny tweets that have shown up on the streets of San Francisco.
While users found the social media platform's viral advertising campaign "awesome," the city hall was not laughing. San Francisco's Department of Public Works said that the stenciled tweets were illegal.
"Our sidewalks are not to be used for commercial billboard," stated Rachel Gordon, the spokesperson for Twitter. "Twitter has the resources to use appropriate venues to advertise their company."
Twitter's New Ad Campaign Places Tweets In The Real World
The stenciled tweets were part of the campaign that also runs in New York City. In San Francisco, over 100 tweets from real people were painted all over the Powell Street BART station.
All of the tweets answer question, "What is Twitter to you?"
pic.twitter.com/KQM2aMbpj9 — Leslie Berland (@leslieberland) September 9, 2019
"The most interesting thing we've seen on Twitter is that people love to define what Twitter is in their own words," explained Leslie Berland, the Twitter's CMO and Head of People, in an interview with Forbes. "We wanted to spotlight and amplify their words and their brands. We literally wanted to manifest their tweets into something tangible and real."
San Francisco Wants Tweets Removed From Sidewalks
Gordon added that if Twitter refuses to remove the stencils on its own, the city hall will call a crew to get rid of the tweets from the sidewalks. The city hall will also demand that the social media platform pay up for the cost of cleanup.
According to SF Chronicle, the company could be facing $100,000 or more in fees and fines if the ad campaign continues.
This is not the first time that a tech company ran into legal trouble after using the streets of San Francisco as free advertising space. In 2002, IBM also ran a similar campaign that saw logos spray-painted on city sidewalks. The company agreed to pay a $100,000 fine and almost $20,000 for the clean up.
In 2015, the business consultancy Bluewolf adorned the sidewalks with its logo (although the company used chalk). Graffiti promoting Justin Bieber's "Promise" album showed up on the streets in the same year.