Auto-correct turns 'no make-up selfie' donations into polar bear adoptions

Charitable users texted 'BEAR' instead of 'BEAT' and received a surprising message from the WWF

James Vincent
Tuesday 25 March 2014 10:11 GMT
Polar bears: famed for their willingness to forego makeup on social media.
Polar bears: famed for their willingness to forego makeup on social media. (REUTERS/Michael Dalder)

The ‘#nomakeupselfie’ trend that surged through social media last week seems to have been a victim of its own success, with users donating thousands of pounds by accident to Unicef instead of Cancer Research UK.

The viral campaign that saw social media users post self-portraits without wearing any make up raised more than £2 million in 48 hours, although its origins are still unclear.

Users who mistakenly sent the keyword 'DONATE' rather than 'BEAT' to text number 70099 donated money to Unicef by mistake, reports the BBC.

Other charitable individuals whose phones autocorrected the word 'BEAT' to 'BEAR' found that they had begun the process to adopt "an adorable polar bear" in a scheme organized by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

Unicef, the UN agency that provides humanitarian care for children and mothers in developing countries, said that it had identified £18,625 of mistaken donations and that it was working to transfer the money to Cancer Research UK.

"Unicef is not responsible for this error however we've been working hard to find a resolution to the situation for those affected," Mike Flynn, director of individual giving at Unicef UK, told the BBC.

Flynn said that Unicef contacted Cancer Research UK as soon as they were aware of the mistaken donations and that they were now "working closely with all parties involved to ensure that this doesn't happen again in the future."

Meanwhile, the WWF said that they too had received accidental text messages. Users who sent the word 'BEAR' to text number 70099 received a reply from the conservation agency saying "Thank you for choosing an adorable polar bear. We will call you today to set up your adoption."

Users took to Twitter to express their confusion but the WWF has assured them that they have not taken any money from these mistaken texts, and nor will they be delivering any polar bears to unwilling participants.

Video courtesy of WWF

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