It would be so satisfying if corporations and brands more often called out racism and other ills in their comments sections on social media. In the responses to a recent Xbox post on Facebook, it appeared at first glance that the console-maker had done exactly that. And while it’s not quite what it initially appears to be, the truth of the matter still includes some clever and satisfying trolling of racists, so I’m all for it.
In this, the year of our lord 2022, it’s become tradition for corporate social media accounts to update their profile pictures with the red, black, green, and yellow colours of the Black History Month flag the moment February rolls around. While some companies make this cosmetic change and call it a day, a chosen few heroically go the extra mile and make a social media post commemorating the Black community.
Whatever intern is running Xbox’s Facebook account has had enough of people’s shit pic.twitter.com/Z0ORB2fqDJ
— Lucas (@realPhoenixFire) February 2, 2022
Though this harmless pandering rarely moves the needle for the Black community, it routinely brings racist commenters out of the woodworks. And while it’s rare for a company’s social media account to clap back at racists in its comment section, an official Xbox Facebook account appeared to have done just that, reading one person’s racist comment for filth.
On February 2, Xbox made a Black History Month Facebook post where it not only commemorated Black developers, creators, and players, but linked to a blog post where it reaffirmed its commitment to being an inclusive space. Below the post, an account called Xbox, with an identical profile image as the official account but suspiciously lacking a verified checkmark by its name, made a comment in the sea of mostly racist replies, posting “Please be patient as we work to ignore all your racist comments.” This emboldened one rando named Seth to comment, “Next month will be for whites right?” prompting an eye-brow raising reply from the Xbox account which read, “Yes, we’ll talk about their role in slavery, colonisation, torture, the burning of cities, Jim Crow segregation, and police brutality.”
Naturally, screenshots of this cathartic interaction did the rounds on Twitter, prompting myself and other Facebook commenters to scour Xbox’s innocuous Black History Month post, popcorn in hand, to see if Xbox had indeed sat Seth’s five-dollar arse down and made some change. Some journalistic digging revealed, however, that the comment wasn’t made by the official Xbox Facebook page at all, but by a TikToker named Ben Palmer.
— Ben Palmer (@PalmerTrolls) February 2, 2022
Simply calling Palmer “a TikToker” doesn’t quite do his career justice. When he isn’t moonlighting as a gag corporate social media account and chronicling his exploits in weekly TikTok videos, he’s on tour doing comedy shows.
The fact that Xbox’s uncharacteristically bold Facebook comment was from Palmer comes as no surprise in retrospect, given that all official accounts have a little blue checkmark next to their names and Palmer’s didn’t. PlayStation also appeared to get in on the interaction, though this, too, was part of Palmer’s ruse. This isn’t the first time that Palmer has parodied corporations. In fact, bigoted commenters and misguided corporations alike aren’t safe from his pranks.
In the past, Palmer impersonated Ben & Jerry’s when it announced its Pecan Resist ice cream when Donald Trump first got elected, Walgreen’s when it promoted the COVID-19 vaccine, and M&M’s when it rebranded itself to be more inclusive. Corporations aren’t safe from Palmer’s trolling either. When Facebook announced its brand change to Meta, Palmer quickly created his own Meta parody page. Palmer might’ve flown too close to the sun with this antic because Facebook gave him a slap on the wrist in the form of a 12-day ban.
“I got my account suspended by [Facebook] for making the Meta page,” Palmer commented on his TikTok video. “But they let me back on. I would’ve been down to like 12 accounts, whew.”
Palmer told Kotaku that he’s been making parody pages to respond to bigots on social media for around eight years. Whenever he reads hateful comment sections, he channels his anger and responds to people through parody accounts.
“On this particular day I was just looking at different corporate pages and noticed Xbox’s Black History post had a high amount of comments on it. To no surprise I saw that most of the comments were toxic,” he said.
Although he publicly reveals via his TikToks that he’s the one behind such comments, his antics often get screencapped and shared on social media without context, much like what happened with the Xbox post. But instead of letting Xbox earn kudos for his satisfying comment without willingly embracing it, Palmer told Kotaku that he took his bit a step further by emailing Xbox while impersonating a journalist to see if the game company stood by its comment (which of course it didn’t actually make). “I haven’t heard back from them, so maybe if there’s an article out there I can use that to leverage a response,” he said.
Kotaku also reached out to Xbox for comment but didn’t receive a reply by time of publication.
While the wind was taken out of my sails that Xbox didn’t, as the kids say, make a based comment, corporations might want to seriously look into hiring him to help guide their social media strategy.