Man Believes Fake News Shared on Social Media; Shoots Up Pizzeria

A Washington, D.C. pizzeria was the center of online attacks on fake news websites saying that it was the center of a child porn ring. The owner was harassed online and received death threats. The New York Times reported it shortly after the 2016 presidential election.

Two weeks later, a man who apparently believed what people shared on Facebook and Twitter about it fired shots at the restaurant.

The articles making those allegations were widespread across the web, appearing on sites including Facebook and Twitter. Apparently concerned, Mr. Welch drove about six hours on Sunday from his home to Comet Ping Pong to see the situation for himself, according to court documents. Not long after arriving at the pizzeria, the police said, he fired from an assault-like AR-15 rifle.

Fortunately, no one was hurt. The man was arrested.

Read more about it at the New York Times.

Do you like this blog? Become a fan on Facebook! Follow us on Twitter @SocMediaGaffes! Follow Nicholas on Twitter @nicholas_cheong.

Film Student Shows Casino in Flames; Questioned by Police

(Original story at The Straits Times here and at AsiaOne here.)

He was just showing his artistic side but others thought that he was inciting a terrorist attack. At least one other news site said that it was because his name suggested that he was a foreigner.

Video showing MBS in flames sparks police probe

Film student questioned over what he says was a special-effects assignment

Published on Feb 04, 2014

By Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh

A Singaporean film student has stoked the ire of netizens – and attracted the attention of the police – after posting a video that showed Marina Bay Sands going up in flames.

Mr Caleb Rozario, 23, is assisting in police investigations after he uploaded an animated clip showing the landmark being attacked by missiles on social media site Facebook in December.

The diploma student at private media school SAE Institute told The Straits Times yesterday that the video was a special-effects assignment.

“It wasn’t a threat or a malicious video,” he said. “I chose Marina Bay Sands in particular for cinematic effect. In Hollywood movies, they have a tendency to attack landmarks.”

Video showing MBS in flames sparks police probe

Thursday, Feb 06, 2014

A Singaporean film student has stoked the ire of netizens – and attracted the attention of the police – after posting a video that showed Marina Bay Sands going up in flames.

Mr Caleb Rozario, 23, is assisting in police investigations after he uploaded an animated clip showing the landmark being attacked by missiles on social media site Facebook in December.

The diploma student at private media school SAE Institute told The Straits Times yesterday that the video was a special-effects assignment.

“It wasn’t a threat or a malicious video,” he said. “I chose Marina Bay Sands in particular for cinematic effect. In Hollywood movies, they have a tendency to attack landmarks.”

Responding to Straits Times inquiries, a police spokesman confirmed that a police report had been made but did not give more details.

On Sunday, Mr Rozario was called in to help investigate the offence of transmitting a false message, which comes under the

Telecommunications Act. Offenders may be jailed for not more than seven years or fined not more than $50,000, or both.

Mr Rozario, who is slated to graduate in a few weeks, said the police went through computers and mobile phones belonging to him and his brother Jesse. They were allowed to leave with all their electronic devices after a few hours.

This is not the first time that he has sparked a controversy. He has drawn flak on several occasions for his online comments, such as those calling Singaporeans “spoiled”.

“I was just venting. The average person complains all the time. The only reason it got blown up was because someone combed through my Facebook account, compiled everything slightly controversial and put it all in one post,” he said, referring to an online compilation of his remarks.

Hundreds of angry comments were made against him on the Facebook page of news commentary website, The Real Singapore. Most netizens were convinced he was a foreigner making disparaging remarks against the country, with some demanding he be “deported” and calling his school project a “terrorist threat”.

Mr Rozario, who is Eurasian and has served national service, said people online assumed he was a foreigner because of his name – which may have stirred up some anti-foreigner sentiments as well.

Nanyang Technological University assistant professor Liew Kai Khiun said the case showed how people get “reckless” and still cannot “grasp that things they do online have implications in real life”.

Dr Liew, of the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, said: “Even though cyberspace is a vast ocean, Singapore is a very small country. What people do and say gets noticed very quickly compared to, say, in a big country like the US. And it definitely has repercussions offline.”

Do you like this blog? Become a fan on Facebook! Follow us on Twitter@SocMediaGaffes! Follow Nicholas on Twitter @nicholas_cheong.

Woman Dresses Up as Boston Marathon Victim; Receives Death Threats and Loses Job

(Original story at BuzzFeed here.)

Yeah, no, that was never a good idea.

 Alicia Ann Lynch, a 22-year-old from Michigan, tweeted and Instagrammed a photo of herself at work dressed as a Boston Marathon bombing victim for Halloween. Twitter users were enraged at the costume, and thousands tweeted at Lynch to express their disgust.

It didn’t take users long to discover that Lynch had once posted a photo of her driver’s license, and they used the information to attack her.

The internet rage spun out of control as Twitter users took out their anger at Lynch by contacting her family. They also circulated nude pictures and videos of her found on Tumblr.
Lynch deleted all of her social media accounts, and later reopened her Twitter account to attempt to be forgiven for her costume.

Commenters on a Barstool Sports article about Lynch began to track down all of her information, including her employer and what they thought was her dad’s company.

Boston Marathon victim Sydney Corcoran, who was severely injured along with her mother, Celeste, also tweeted in anger at Lynch.

In her reopened Twitter account, Lynch said she had lost her job over the costume.

Though the internet anger continued into November, some tried to end the incessant attacks on Lynch, tweeting that they had forgiven her.

Update – Nov. 3, 12:50 p.m., ET: Lynch reached out to BuzzFeed by email to express her regret at her costume choice. She also chastised those who wished harm on her, saying she would never wish what happened to her on someone else.

Lynch also claims she didn’t post the apology tweets under her username @someSKANKinMI.
“I had apologized a few hours after posting and the apology went to deaf ears and blind eyes, so I had deleted all my social accounts. It seems someone is trying to look out for me and help me make things better, which I also greatly appreciate,” she said.

Update – Nov. 3, 4:15 p.m., ET: BuzzFeed spoke to Lynch by phone from her home in Michigan, where she confirmed she had been fired and has been receiving death threats.“I’ve had voicemails where they want to slit my throat and they want to hang me and tear off my face,” she said. “I’m just like, I don’t even know how to respond to this right now.”The 22-year-old added that strangers also reached out to her parents and told her best friend “they’re going to blow up her house and hang her child.”

“I’m like, how is that even right? She didn’t know what I was doing. My family didn’t know what I was doing. I don’t live with them. And they’re all getting dragged into this for something I did.”

Though Lynch seems able to let most of the threats slide down her back, some in particular affect her — namely, the ones having to do with rape, an experience she tearily described undergoing last Thanksgiving.

“When people bring up the rape stuff it kind of hits a spot, but I don’t show it. I’m over it, but it’s something that I would never, ever wish upon someone no matter what they had done. They can dress however they want.”

Despite the backlash, Lynch said she never second-guessed her marathon costume and said multiple people she brought it up to found the idea funny. She claimed she had seen other people on Twitter dressed as Boston Marathon victims, and blamed the uproar around her costume, rather than around others’, on the fact that she is a woman.“Honestly, it’s the Day of the Dead,” she says. “I wasn’t a dead person, I wasn’t being disrespectful. I was a survivor of a marathon. And it’s not like I was walking around with a fake leg or my arm torn off or something like that.”

She added that although she lost her job — which she declined to describe — she sees it as a push to do something new, and isn’t concerned about future employers googling her. Asked if she thinks she’ll be able to secure another job, she replied, “Yeah, I don’t think I’ll have an issue with that.”

“It doesn’t really bother me,” she said about the idea of others searching for her on the internet.

“I have nothing to hide. It happened, I made a mistake. I just have to learn from it. I’m not a terrible person.”

Do you like this blog? Become a fan on Facebook! Follow us on Twitter@SocMediaGaffes! Follow Nicholas on Twitter @nicholas_cheong.