How’d *that* one get through QA?

Last year, Microsoft set up a Windows Live Messenger bot to let kids talk with Santa: great fun for kids, a good way to increase readership — and of course a potential wealth of information to mine to better target ads, both for the kids and their parents. Talk about win/win! They reactivated it this year, but as Jessica Mintz informs us ran into some snags:

The holiday cheer soured this week when a reader of a United Kingdom-based technology news site, The Register, reported that a chat between Santa and his underage nieces about eating pizza prompted Santa to bring up oral sex.

One of the publication’s writers replicated the chat Monday. After declining the writer’s repeated invitations to eat pizza, a frustrated Santa burst out with, “You want me to eat what?!? It’s fun to talk about oral sex, but I want to chat about something else.”

The exchange ended with the writer and Santa calling each other “dirty bastard.”

Adam Sohn of Microsoft, doing his best to put lipstick on a pig (as my PR friends say), explains that Santa’s lewd comment was sparked by someone “pushing this thing to make it do things it wasn’t supposed to do.” And after all, who would have thought that kids would do something like that? He also insisted that insisted the company did not suspect an employee prank. Hmm. It’s really hard for me to imagine this happening by accident; so does that mean it was planned?

Presumably once they track the responsible non-prankster(s) down, it’ll be coal in their stocking.