@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
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.
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?