According to a (Fake) Twitter Account Nelson Mandela Died

In what can be looked at as a social media case study (gone awry) we can look at how quickly information goes viral on Twitter and how people react to stories. I was already feeling a little raw from the Publisher Weekly “we didn’t know that was racialized sexism” insulting suggestion to “pick” black authors by featuring artwork of a black woman with hair picks. Like it’s 1970 all over again or something. That was on Tuesday. Then yesterday the Huffington Post published an article linking race to pathological behavior in black males tying President Obama with Tiger Woods.

Thanks to male privilege that one garnered a much bigger response. Of course. The white cis female “writer” claims that she’s not racist because she has black friends. Of course. Her hit piece was slapped together with popsicle sticks, zero brain cells and no journalistic skills but it was Hump Day and Arianna needs a new jet for Christmas! (Not linking to either sites as blog hits is what they want.)

I just love the open format whereby people can find each other by subject or point of interest, but I am growing increasingly frustrated by the lack of measures put in place by the Twitter hierarchy in curtailing misuse of access. Anyone can set up an account and the only verification process in place has to do with confirming high profile individuals. Meanwhile as Twitter use has exploded long-term users are being inundated literally by the minute with porn spam photos, hacked private messages and other nuisance accounts that are starting to undermine the Twitter experience. Between Britney’s fellatio adventures and IQ tests I’ve had enough. When they decide to address fake and underused accounts they are overaggressive in purging legit accounts from a follower’s list along with the professional hackers and spammers.

The reason why I’m writing this though has to do with a lie. I almost had a heart attack when someone I follow on Twitter posted a message on their timeline claiming Nelson Mandela had passed away. They had received third party erroneous information. I knew to ask for verification though. Why?  I really can’t stand the idea of another icon whose life works loom large – despite any flaws – that have impacted generations. I had to be certain.

So as I scrambled to search for a confirmation and found nothing I wondered what was going on. It turns out a (fake?) user was posting fake stories.

MandelaLiar

As I felt the urge to open up a can of whoop-you-know-what and read through a flurry of messages from other Tweeters this was revealed:

fakeornot

Thanks to Nichelle for talking me off the ledge because it was really late, I was tired and NOT in the mood for any foolishness! Yet I’m far from satisfied. Is the first account fake and not a reporter for a Dallas newspaper? Is the person who claims to have had their identity stolen real? Or are we all part of some great hoax? Either way Twitter needs to get to the bottom of this and DELETE!

It’s just too bad that’s all that can be done because I’d like to find the person posting fake death notices and have them publicly flogged for such an egregious act. For real. There are those of us that have come to regard this little micro-blogging service as a “sacred space” of sorts. I’ve met some amazing people that I cannot imagine I would have had the opportunity to communicate with otherwise. Of course we have to take these interactions with a grain of salt but they are as legit as they can be under the circumstances. Studies show users have preferences between sites like MySpace, Facebook (grr to their non-privacy settings) and Twitter. I love using the latter. It’s simply irresponsible to allow such a great resource to be overrun and bastardized by profiteers and sycophants.

We’re not allowed to yell “Fire” into a crowded room unless there really is one. So I urge Evan, Jack, Biz and Dom – the co-founders of Twitter – to do something about this before they start losing legit users. For real.