U.S. Capitol Police investigates fake news reports from The OnionSeptember 30th, 2011 - 2:09 am ICT by BNO News
WASHINGTON, D.C. (BNO NEWS) — A series of tweets and a fake news story from The Onion reporting a shooting and hostage situation at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on Thursday led to outrage and a police investigation.
The prank began at around 9.30 a.m. local time when The Onion, a satirical news publication, posted a message to its 3.1 million subscribers on the social networking website Twitter. “BREAKING: Witnesses reporting screams and gunfire heard inside Capitol building,” the message said.
The tweet raised the question whether The Onion’s account had been hacked or whether it was a joke, and some even took it seriously although the site is widely known to only publish fake news. “I work at the Capitol and I just yelled at my coworkers that there was gunfire… you scared the s* out of me,” one Twitter user said.
About ten minutes after the initial post, The Onion posted a follow-up message claiming that 12 children had been taken hostage by a group of armed Congressmen. “Reports from those who know Congress say the legislative body had seemed desperate as of late,” another message said.
The satirical news publication took it a step further on its website where it posted a fake photo of House Speaker John Boehner holding a gun against the head of a little girl. “If the money is not delivered by this evening, members of Congress say they will shoot a new child every hour on the hour,” the caption said, referring to a supposed $12 trillion ransom.
However, the U.S. Capitol Police was not amused and in response sent out a statement to journalists. “It has come to our attention that recent Twitter feeds are reporting false information concerning current conditions at the U.S. Capitol,” a statement from spokeswoman Kimberly Schneider said.
Schneider added: “There is no credibility to these stories or the Twitter feeds. The U.S. Capitol Police are currently investigating the reporting.”
On social networking websites such as Twitter and Facebook, some people responded with outrage and saying it was inappropriate. “Enough already. It’s not even funny and you’re freaking people out while joking of children being killed,” Joseph Gonzales wrote on Twitter.
Other people did find it funny or criticized people for overreacting to the fake reports. “Amazed by moronic overreaction to #CongressHostage gag,” Jay Schiappa tweeted. Kevin Snow said: “I love that some people still fall for @TheOnion. The #CongressHostage tweets today and the reaction have made my day.”
The Onion was founded in 1988 and, in addition to its website, also publishes satirical articles in a print edition. In September 2009, two Bangladeshi newspapers were forced to apologize after it reported that U.S. astronaut Neil Armstrong had told a news conference that the Moon landings were an ‘elaborate hoax’. The Bangladeshi reports were based on a story published by The Onion.
- Hackers hijack Twitter page of NBC News, post fake terror alerts - Sep 10, 2011
- Thai government welcomes Twitter censorship announcement - Jan 30, 2012
- Government denies internet censorship, Modi joins protest - Aug 24, 2012
- Amnesty blasts China for jailing woman for year in labour camp over satirical tweet - Nov 19, 2010
- Hackers post false updates about Syria on Reuters Twitter account - Aug 06, 2012
- Government denies censorship as Twitter agrees to block imposter sites (Lead) - Aug 24, 2012
- Fake account of Murdoch's wife Wendi Deng fools Twitter - Jan 04, 2012
- Twitter confirms it acquired TweetDeck, terms not disclosed - May 26, 2011
- Boy George abandons Twitter - Apr 24, 2012
- "Who's Who" of Muslims linked to terrorists attending Capitol Hill prayers since 9/11 - Nov 12, 2010
- Twitter record over Osama's killing - May 03, 2011
- Chinese social media users 'happier' than Westerners - Jun 28, 2012
- Twitter users post more than 12,000 tweets per second during Super Bowl - Feb 06, 2012
- Tweeting gives a sense of mission, says Nirupama Rao - Mar 08, 2011
- Police Personnel Allege That An Assistant Of Senator Barbara Boxer Owned Marijuana - Sep 09, 2010
Tags: bno, capitol police, current conditions, fake news, fake photo, false information, hostage situation, house speaker, initial post, john boehner, kimberly schneider, legislative body, members of congress, million subscribers, networking website, police investigation, satirical news, social networking, tweets, twitter