Microsoft has been forced to apologise after it appeared to seek marketing gain in return for making a donation to the victims of Japan's earthquake and tsunami.
The company's @Bing twitter account tweeted yesterday: "How you can #SupportJapan - http://binged.it/fEh7iT. For every retweet, @bing will give $1 to Japan quake victims, up to $100K."
The tweet was met with a mixed response from users of the popular microblogging site.
"So @bing will donate $1 per RT for #Japan... How about just donating the $100k limit and stop promoting off the back of suffering. #Pariahs," replied Twitterer Chris Dowson.
But Bing seemed to get the publicity it wanted when the message was retweeted by the American Idol host Ryan Seacrest, resulting in a flurry of retweets.
Microsoft later clarified its position: "We apologise the tweet was negatively perceived. Intent was to provide an easy way for people to help Japan. We have donated $100K," the company tweeted.
A magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck off the East Coast of Japan late Friday, generating a tsunami up to 10 metres high that washed away whole cities and towns.
The death toll was predicted to rise beyond 10,000 with many people still unaccounted for.