May the Fourth be with you! Not just the proclamations of a Star Wars fan with a lisp, but also the slogan of Star Wars Day, the annual celebration of all the things we love about that galaxy far, far away on 4 May. With the COVID-19 lockdowns in place, there won’t be any major fan festivals this year, but Disney was planning to compensate for that. As announced last week, the behind-the-scenes documentary series Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian would premiere on Disney+ on 4 May, and this weekend past we got the news that Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker would be dropping early on the streaming service on the same day.
And with the latter blockbuster drawing to a close the Skywalker Saga, it’s only expected that Disney would try to get some fan involvement on what the franchise has meant to them over the years. Except, all they’ve done is get a bunch of people upset. It all began simple enough with the following tweet:
A pretty innocuous request, by any understanding. What’s more, it seemed to indicate that Disney would somehow be highlighting these memories from fans in some manner on Star Wars Day. And here’s where things went a little pear-shaped as Disney proceeded to outline the terms and conditions attached to these tweets.
And I’m sure you can immediately see the problem here just like so many others did. Comic book writer Andy Diggle summed it up nicely in his reply.
Soon the Disney+ Twitter accounts timeline was filled with irate fans calling into question the House of Mouse’s seemingly draconian attempt to effectively own a hashtag and any tweets associated with it.
Now before you guys also start stocking up on pitchforks and torches and figuring out ways to break the travel ban so you can go toyi-toyi outside Disney’s offices in California, you may want to re-read Disney’s actual tweet. As the account pointed out in a follow-up tweet a few hours later, and as some others also highlighted, what Disney is doing here is not laying claim to an entire hashtag. They’re effectively using very standard terms and conditions when it comes to doing online promotions in which public social media posts will be displayed somewhere else. And this is not for the entire hashtag, but just to the replies on this one particular twitter thread.
I have to admit, it is a bit weird that Disney actually went out of their way to put the legalities surrounding this promo front and centre like this. I’ve never really seen any other big corporate do that before. And while, in a certain way, this is actually laudable, it actually comes off as a bit… dick-ish in tone. I can certainly understand why people seeing the initial tweets (and who are not familiar with the terms and conditions of Twitter and all these types of social media promos) would react the way they did.
Also, in case anybody was wondering, I didn’t ask any of the people whose tweets I mentioned above for any special permission to embed them here. Because that’s how Twitter works, as some of you may just have learned.
Last Updated: April 28, 2020