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Like McDonald's Before It, JPMorgan Suffers a Hashtag Hijacking on Twitter

November 14, 2013

Twitter Q&As, usually organized around hashtags, can be a great way to generate some goodwill and free publicity around your brand. But companies with vocal critics risk having their hashtags hijacked by snark.

That's what happened to JPMorgan Chase on Wednesday when it asked Twitter users to pose questions using #AskJPM for a live chat set to take place today. The hashtag quickly became trending on the social network, but it was so overwhelmed by harsh criticism and outright nastiness -- like accusing JPMorgan chief executive Jamie Dimon of eating babies -- that the bank decided to cancel today's live chat with Jimmy Lee, one of its top investment bankers.

"#Bad idea! Back to the drawing board," a JPMorgan spokesman told the Los Angeles Times.

The bad publicity couldn't have come at a worse time for JPMorgan. The bank has been in the news recently for the $13 billion settlement it is being forced to pay the U.S. government to end probes into its sale of mortgage-backed securities. The settlement will be the largest of its kind, but even so U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has said he won't absolve the bank of possible criminal liability.

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The nation's largest bank is also under investigation in the U.S. for allegedly hiring members of prominent Chinese families to advance its business interests in Asia. And the SEC and the U.S. Justice Department recently widened that investigation to include the bank's activities in South Korea, Singapore and India as well.

Since misery loves company, here are two more Twitter chat disasters (and one close call) from recent history:

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