Twitter Hoaxes: The digital monsters of Loch Ness
What if I told you that the pope is getting married tomorrow with the man of his life or that Elvis and Michael Jackson are still alive and kicking, you would probably call me insane. If I tweeted on the other hand that Starbucks is giving away free drinks today, you would call me a hero and retweet this information. Nobody – or perhaps a few clever tweeps – would check this information.
Hundreds of people would immediately go to Starbucks and demand their free drinks. Though, after a few minutes happy faces would fade away when the hunger for free coffee makes place for reality. Starbucks could eat â€“ or in their case drink â€“ me alive. My successful hoax caused damage to the Starbucks image. Though, Starbucks wouldn’t be the first.
The last years consumers have been confronted with many things that seemed plausible. Perhaps you remember I-Dosing, the drug that could be downloaded [watch the report] or the launch of the stunfone, which was in fact used for the launch of an advertising agency [watch press conference]. One of the most famous hoaxes last year was the the Hopa Girl in which a girl announced her resignation by mailing 33 photos to her colleagues [techcrunch]. And last week I read something about the successful opening of the Appleland Themepark on Scoopertino, the website for unreal Apple news. Almost every day we have to make a decision as a consumer: is it true or is it false? Most of the times these messages are harmless and funny, but sometimes they can cause damage to an organisation. They can also cause emotional damage like the Twitter hoax of airlines’ offering free flights to Haiti [cnn].
I can only hope that in the near future people will develop a sixth twittersense: â€œGoogle before you Tweet should be the new think before you speakâ€. The truth is out there!