Last night I was at a neighbor's house for his daughter's birthday party. While everyone else was watching Olympic coverage, I decided to check my Blackberry to see what my PLN (Personal Learning Network) was talking about on Twitter. I happened to notice one RT (re-tweet) in particular that sent chills through my body: (I will be using screenshots and hyperlinks them at this point to illustrate and prove that this really happened - pay particular attention to the time stamps)
My friend @jswiatek sent out the following post::
I wrote Jerry back and said if this is not a hoax, it really shows how powerful a tool Twitter can be. You see, for the past few months I have been presenting at Educational Technology Conferences about the power of Twitter. At the same time of course, I was hoping that no one was truly in this situation, but just in case I Re-Tweeted it as well:
At this point I started feeling helpless. Who do I contact to get help to that address? The host of the party suggested CNN and I thought that was a good idea, but I wanted to be sure before contacting a major news network. So I excused myself and walked back to my house to do some research. On the way I sent the following messages:
Once I was in front of a computer, it was time to research. The first thing I did was look at @biodome10's profile: http://twitter.com//biodome10
As I am reading, the posts don't look good and the situation looks grim. So now to find out more about @biodome10. Does he live in Chile? What is he doing there? The tweets a few hours earlier seemed pretty normal. So, I did a Google search for @biodome10 and the word hoax. Imagine my surprise, when I came across the headline "Tweet Cheat: Fake Reporter Sparks Controversy" (click the link to read the article) regarding a controversy @biodome10 was involved in reporting Chris Henry's death before it happened.
Basically the report stated "At around 5 p.m., on an account with Fraley's name, photograph, and a link to the DMN Web site, Twitter user @BioDome10 released a series of tweets that claimed that Henry died. At the time, Henry was battling for his life at a North Carolina hospital, and wouldn't die for another 12 hours."'
OK, so what is going on here? Gerry Fraley is a reporter for the Dallas Morning News? Let's see what he looks like. Time for another Google search, this time for Gerry Fraley video which turned up this link.
Now, what can be learned from this? Certainly, don't believe everything you read on Twitter or anywhere on the web for that matter. As far as @biodome10 is concerned you are a very sick individual. Whether you are an imposter pretending to be Mr. Fraley, a hacker who decided this would be a good joke or it is indeed Gerry Fraley, you have a very serious problem and should be brought up on some form of charges. What if authorities had responded to that address and others died as they were wasting time?
Second, I am certainly not sure what to believe. It was indeed a hoax (just not sure who perpetrated it), because although @biodome10 continued for a few hours to play off that he had been rescued in Chile, his most recent tweets only a few hours later are back to being sports related:
Next, I believe I just proved what it means to be a responsible Digital Citizen. Before believing everything that appears on your browser or cell phone, do your homework. As you can see from start to finish it only took about an hour to expose this hoax. Meanwhile, all of @biodome10s followers are freaking out thinking he's buried and dying. A search on Tweetag.com now shows that the hoax has been exposed for what it is, but last night was a different story. Hopefully, this is the educational lesson that you can share with your students.
Climbing down off my soapbox now!