UPDATE, 7:52 PM: Reddit is looking a little red-faced today. After alleging Wednesday that someone at Warner Bros was trying to game comments and postings about the about-to-open driving thriller Getaway on the social news and entertainment site, Reddit is now changing its tune. The site said tonight that neither Warners nor anyone working for it actually had anything to do with the supposed under-handed marketing move. After looking into the matter more and likely fielding some calls from WB lawyers, Reddit updated its original post with the following statement late Thursday:
After further investigation, we have found that neither Warner Bros. nor any of their employees was involved in this activity. To be perfectly clear, the posts that we detected came from a third party who had no affiliation with Warner Bros. This third party was not part of the marketing efforts of Warner Bros for the film. We regret confusion about the source of these posts, and appreciate the cooperation and understanding of Warner Bros who has taken this as seriously as we do and has very strict policies on these matters.
PREVIOUSLY, 12 PM: It’s a digital case of “they-said/we’re checking.” Social news and entertainment site Reddit claimed earlier this week that one of its volunteer moderators noticed some overly positive and “suspicious postings and comments” related to Getaway, the Warner Bros car pic opening Friday starring Ethan Hawke and Selena Gomez. Reddit says those posts came from Warner Bros employees. For its part, Warner Bros neither said it was true nor that it was BS. “We absolutely do not do business that way as part of our film marketing. We are looking into this allegation as we take it very seriously,” WB said in a parsed statement today. Said Reddit general manager Erik Martin in a posting on the site yesterday: “This appears to be just a few employees and not some company-wide or systematic thing. We checked other posts about this movie and there are plenty of posts that are 100% organic and have no signs of manipulation”. Whoever is responsible, its backfired for the studio in more ways than one: Martin’s post has proved very popular on Reddit and ended up in a prime spot on its front page with praise being heaped on the keen eye of moderator “mi-16evil”, with plenty of other commenters taking shots at Warner Bros and the movie. On Reddit, content finds success and page positioning from being voted on by users. Having banned the likes of The Atlantic and gaming site IGN in the past over similar issues, the site said it reached out to the studio over the “essentially ineffective” posts when it took them down. It also gave a virtual hand-slap to Warners: “If you work at a studio or other content creator please make sure you are familiar with our rules and our guidelines on self-promotion. If you want to promote your awesome works on reddit, buy an ad, don’t try to interfere with organic activity”. The Warners-Dark Castle Entertainment action thriller Getaway stars Hawke as an ex-race car driver who commandeers a Shelby Cobra Mustang and its owner (Gomez) in order to save his kidnapped wife. It opens August 30.
Deadline's Dominic Patten - tip him here.