@ComfortablySmug, the boy who cried wolf.

Hurricane Sandy did its share of damage to major cities

across the east coast, but New York City was affected in a more sever way

that affected mass amounts of the city’s population.  The affects

stretched to the transportation systems to power outages. Subways were

shut down for days because of massive flooding, and Sandy’s high winds

shut down electricity in the majority of the city’s boroughs.  Looters

had their share of fun during Sandy’s rage as well, and as if the madness

couldn’t get any worst, Shashank Tripathi felt the need to contribute

more to the frenzy in a negative way.


            During the storm Shashank Tripathi, also known as @Comfortablysmug on

twitter, tweeted a series of  tweets that were supposed to be current

coverage of Sandy for his 5,000 plus  followers. Some of his followers

include very influential people, such as Andy Carvin from the Arab

Spring movement. Tripathi’s was not the only one covering Sandy live,

that day on twitter hashtags like #sandycoverage trended on twitter

because of other New Yorker’s live coverage of Sandy’s rage.

@Comfortablysmug’s tweets stood out from other twitter users covering

Sandy because some of his tweets were false, but at the time of Sandy

were interpreted as factual by his followers.

Some of the bogus tweets were, “‘BREAKING: Confirmed flooding on NYSE. The

trading floor is flooded under more than 3 feet of water, and Con Edison has

begun shutting down all power in Manhattan’”. Each of Tripathi’s false tweets

received over 700 retweets combined. Those retweets went to thousands of

oblivious twitter users keeping up with live coverage of hurricane Sandy.

Tripathi’s tweets left thousands of people wondering if there were more

fatalities, and caused a number of concerned responses. Along with those concerned

responses came skeptical responses. These Reponses were from people who heard

different or were actually present in areas Tripathi claimed to affected by Sandy.

Because of these responses Tripathi was revealed as the boy who cried wolf.

Following Tripathi’s exposure, he went back to tweeting, but this time sent a

“sincere” apology to his followers and others affected by his actions. In his

apology he said, “ I take full responsibility for my actions, I deeply regret

any distress and harm I may have caused” Why would Tripathi do this? The world

may never know. His twitter biography says, “My Interests: Finance, Gin,

Politics, Books, Food, Fine Clothing, Meeting Strangers.” Maybe gin was

involved, who knows! Tripathi has refrained from tweeting since his apology.


Tripathi’s Apology

Because of this story I began to question the credibility of other news

resources on twitter. Tripathi’s true identity is not included on his twitter

profile, so this makes me question how important anonymity is in situations like

this? Can social network news sources that are run by anonymous users be

trusted? Should social networks put a policy in place that requires a person’s

true identity to be revealed?