In a recent social media-based college prank, the joke was on the students. The students who love beer, specifically.
Some people worry Snapchat will corrupt young people by encouraging them to casually flash their nether regions on camera. But the most recent Snapchat snafu actually caused under-21ers to abandon a vice en masse, so maybe abstinence advocates shouldn’t write off the app just yet.
A Snapchat photo that implied police would raid the University of Virginia dorms led to a frantic beer-dump of epic proportions. The message was, in reality, sent anonymously and as a joke by another student (it should come as a surprise to no one that the local police were not using Snapchat as a warning system), but within hours, students were rushing to ditch their contraband.
The Snapchat photo was meant as a prank on just one person – first-year student Meredith Markwood, to be specific. But by the time she forwarded the message to four friends and they in turn forwarded it to others, the simple Snapchat took on a viral life of its own. With almost everyone available on their smartphones and logged in to social media, the rumor circulated with at lightning speed. When Markwood realized the Snapchat was in jest, she tried to put the kibosh on the story, but people had already started abandoning their alcohol – and refused to believe her. Markwood expressed disbelief at how quickly the rumor spread to UVA’s Cavalier Daily, “I thought ‘I can’t have gotten this to the whole first-year class. I am one person. I don’t even have 700 Facebook friends.’”
News of the faux-raid spread faster than a stick of butter on a hot day: Wildly much out of control and immediately very messy.
Upon learning that all the hysteria was for naught, some students had a sense of humor about it.
“The current BAC of the dumpster: 5.6”
— Kasey Stolba (@kstolbzz) April 8, 2013
The Dean of students Allen Groves took to Twitter to discuss the situation as well, which he didn’t seem too concerned about:
UPD has just confirmed to me that ABC is NOT conducting searches on Grounds today. Someone has had a lot of fun at my students’ expense.
— Allen Groves (@UVADeanGroves) April 8, 2013
People adopted the hashtag #UVAdormsearch to talk about the incident, which didn’t lead to anyone getting in trouble but may lead students to think twice before pulling a digital prank. Especially one concerning Snapchat: The app has seen insane growth in the last few months, now processing 150 million photos a day. Be careful when you snap and send, kids.