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Fake Stories, Real Consequences

Posted At: April 24, 2013 7:30 P.M.
by Grayson Martin

Yesterday, the Associated Press’ Twitter account was hacked. The hacker then tweeted, “Breaking: Two Explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured.” There was an immediate reaction to the false report; the DOW dropped 145 points within two minutes.

The faux tweet was quickly dispelled and the stock market soon returned to normal. This instance goes to show that you can’t trust everything you see on the Internet, especially now that some of the more credible news outlets are falling prey to Internet phishing schemes.

One of my biggest pet peeves is when I log on to Twitter or Facebook and see where my friends or followers are sharing some bogus photo or story. Sorry everyone, but no matter how many times you share that photo, Bill Gates will not be sending you money.

One such instance that really bothered me is a photo of what is described to be an Oreo cookie opened to reveal a squished spider on the inside. The post is captioned, cautioning to always check your Oreo or pledging to never eat Oreos again.

What gets me with the Oreo spider story is that there is no evidence to prove that the cookie is actually an Oreo. Thus the Oreo brand is the one hurt, and wrongfully so. A quick Google search shows that the story is more than likely false, and the spider was placed in the cookie as a prank.

As PR professionals, we understand the importance of maintaining a client’s image, and this is why I can’t stand the thought of a brand’s image being damaged due to a fake story or photo that spreads across social media like wildfire. I visit the Snopes site  regularly to find background on things that I think are suspicious. It is generally a good tool for keeping up with urban legends, myths and misinformation.

Let’s all work toward keeping the communications industry as trustworthy and professional as possible. Fact check and research your info and leads, even from your most trusted sources. A simple fact check can take no time at all and be the difference between being a go-to source or having to save face after spreading erroneous information.

Look here to see the seven ways Metal Floss found to figure out the AP hack.


  1. Post comment

    I think it’s frustrating to know people are trying to hack accounts. I don’t see the point in what they try to do. Mind your own business. We are interested in what the real person is saying and not what is being made up


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