After the Starbucks coffee chain announced that they would be closing their stores on 29 May 2018 to conduct racial-bias education following the controversial arrest of two black men at one of their locations in Philadelphia, an image purportedly showing a Starbucks coupon offered exclusively to customers of African-American heritage began to circulate on social media:
The “apology” coupon was fake that was not released by Starbucks and was not redeemable at any of the chain’s locations — it was a race-based hoax that was likely created (and certainly spread) by users of the 4chan internet forum. A spokesperson for Starbucks told Business Insider that “This [coupon] is completely false and [is] in no way associated with Starbucks.”
4chan users also implored each other to share this fake coupon with the hashtag #FreeBlackCoffee in threads filled with racial slurs. In fact, the QR code in the above-displayed coupon spells out the word “n**ger” when scanned.
4chan has a history of creating fake coupons with the intent of mocking Starbucks’ “liberal” positions. When the company announced their support for Dreamers and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, trolls on the forum created mock-ups for a fake Starbucks “Dreamer Day” coupon.
Similar fake flyers for a “Welcome Refugees” promotion were posted to the r/The_Donald section of reddit after Starbucks announced in 2017 that they would be hiring over 10,000 displaced peoples over the following 5 years.
Taylor, Kate. “Free Starbucks Is a Hoax from 4Chan.”
Business Insider. 18 April 2018.