Blog: What Brands Can Learn From Disney's #MayThe4th Scandal

Disney wanted to let fans celebrate their love of Star Wars. It didn't go to plan.

This week - the last week of April in 2020 - there's been a huge outcry about Disney+ and their approach to user-generated content around the famously Star-Wars-sounding date of May 4th.

Specifically, this Tweet: 


It's sparked a lot of dialogue around the rights and wrongs of consent for big companies to feature user-generated content in their marketing - even if it's to celebrate a beloved franchise, as in this case with the plan to somehow amplify the best of the fans' posts.

People are pointing out the breadth of this disclaimer and the liklihood of a user not even seeing it before posting their #MayThe4th tweets, especially since the details including the link to the brand's legal terms and conditions was included as a reply to the original request for fans to share their posts.

Disney have since tried to clarify their position, posting the following as an additional reply to that reply:


The outrage spread, and it's even been featured on BBC News. They spoke to a lawyer, Aaron Wood, at UK law firm Keystone Law. His verdict? "It is a little risky and presumptuous that all tweets copying them in with the hashtag will have read their terms, or know about them. A user can give permission to someone else to use their tweet. However, Disney’s risk is whether users who simply use the hashtag are really are giving them that permission."

We couldn't have said it better ourselves. That's why our UGC platform features extensive rights management options which put user consent at the heart of this kind of campaign.

So how would it have worked if they'd used Hashtag'd? Well it's pretty straightforward:

  1. Gather - based on their broadest criteria, in this case mentioning @DisneyPlus - we'd gather all public content shared to Twitter.
  2. Sift - now using specific criteria like the inclusion of the #MayThe4th hashtag, along with sentiment analysis and much more, our platform would present a shortlist of the best fan posts.
  3. Rights manage - in a single click, the brand could request permission to use the posts they liked best. This would trigger a reply to the original user, including a link to the T&Cs, who would then have to proactively reply and confirm their consent to the brand's use of their post. Our platform then stores a full audit trail to prove that consent was requested and granted.

Now we're not lawyers but we think this is a much more transparent and honest way to seek consent from fans or customers, including giving them the option to grant - or not grant - consent to the brand who want to feature their intellectual property (in this case, their tweet) on an individual basis whilst still being scalable for a brand as big as Disney. 

If you're a brand, agency or media contact who'd like to see our platform or discuss these issues then do get in touch.