A tale of two Twitter hoaxes

presidential candidates fake twitter followers question

Because no one can stay off their Internet over the holidays, this weekend America was captivated by not one but two highly entertaining Twitter-based fights.

The first feud that captivated a turkey-addled nation was between The Bachelor producer Elan Gale and a woman he called “Diane in 7A.” According to Gale, Diane was extremely rude to her flight attendants, acting like she was the only person stressed about flying on Thanksgiving. Offended by her churlish manners, Gale responded by sending her mean notes and tweeting her increasingly flustered responses. He said she slapped him in the face when they got off the plane.

The Internet was intrigued by this foul-mouthed crusader for etiquette. Buzzfeed posted an article about the spat with over a million views. Some people applauded Gale’s antics. Others people pointed out that telling a stranger to eat your genitals isn’t a super-productive (or funny) way to get them to be less rude. 

Gale wasn’t the only mischievous white man stirring up Twitter trouble. Comedian Kyle Kinane discovered a flaw in Pace Salsa’s Twitter account: The account automatically favorited any tweet that mentioned its product, even if the tweet was astoundingly negative. Kinane unleashed a series of insulting tweets and Pace continued to favorite them.The Pace Twitter handle started direct messaging him, asking for respite from his torrent of anti-Pace tweets. Kinane took screenshots of the exchanges and posted them, inciting more desperate responses from the harried Pace team. At one point, they said “blackmail for salsa is still blackmail.” The employees operating the Pace account seemed to have a power struggle resulting in one being sent home:

Then the account was shuttered, and Kinane appeared triumphant. The Internet was generally pleased that a funnier feud had supplanted Gale and Diane’s battle as the week’s Twitter beef. 

Both incidents were notable for how straight-up cartoonishly ridiculous the antagonists acted, which makes sense, because it turns out neither Diane in 7A nor the hapless Pace Salsa team were real. Just like the Jimmy Kimmel “worst twerk ever” girl, these spats did not develop authentically with the help of social media. 

Gale revealed that Diane was made-up early this week (through a tweet, of course).

This should surprise exactly no one, as Gale is the producer of an almost insultingly fake reality show, and he already pulled a stunt like this before, live-tweeting a date that never happened. His last fake live tweet was in 2012, which is so long ago in Internet years that many major news publications believed him this time around, despite a suspicious lack of evidence that Diane existed beyond Gale’s Twitter feed. 

Kinane’s salsa fake-out was more of a Catfish situation, if you can catfish someone into thinking you’re a corporate bot. Comedian Randy Liedtke created a fake Pace salsa account to prank Kinane — the actual Pace salsa had nothing to do with it. 

It’s easy to play around with narrative, using social media to tweak reality — and the “echo chamber” element of places like Twitter make it easy to turn a prank into a viral hoax. It doesn’t help that many digital media outlets adopt a “publish-first, ask-questions-later” outlook (something I’ve been guilty of before — it’s endemic to fast-paced online publishing). These hoaxes, as goofy as they were, can serve as a reminder that it’s better to confirm a story before publishing or sharing it. And also that the wild world of Twitter cannot be trusted. 

Social Media

Snap a photo to follow a new friend on Instagram with its Nametags tool

Skip the typing and search bar -- Instagram now allows you to add friends using the in-app camera. Nametags are scannable graphics that will lead straight to your Instagram profile.
Movies & TV

Stay inside this summer with the best shows on Hulu, including 'Castle Rock'

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we've put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix in October, from 'Mindhunter’ to ‘The Good Place’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Computing

Facebook’s latest data breach could earn Europeans thousands in compensation

Facebook users in Europe distressed about Facebook's revelation that its latest breach left as many as 50 million users exposed could get some compensation. Facebook also faces a class-action suit and a broader GDPR investigation.
News

Voice commands could be coming to Facebook Messenger

Thanks to digital assistants, voice controls are becoming commonplace. One day, we may even be using them in Facebook Messenger. The company has confirmed that it is currently conducting internal tests for Messenger voice commands.
Mobile

Find love with the best LGBT dating apps for iOS and Android

If you're looking to meet someone new, look no further than your phone. Whether it's just a date, or you're looking for something a little more serious, here are the best LGBT dating apps available for Android and iOS.
Smart Home

Creepy or convenient? Facebook’s new Portal smart display follows you around the room

Facebook's Portal devices are video smart speakers with Amazon Alexa voice assistants built in that allow you to make calls between FB friends. The 15-inch Portal+ model features a pivoting camera that follows you around the room as you…
Mobile

2018's 10 best dating apps to help you find the perfect companion

Everyone knows online dating can be stressful, time-consuming, and downright awful. Check out our top picks for the best dating apps, so you can streamline the process and find the right date, whatever you're looking for.
Computing

Google to shut down Google+ after exposure of 500,000 users’ data

After Facebook revealed that 50 million users may have been exposed as a result of a security vulnerability, Google announced it discovered a bug that left 500,000 Google+ users exposed. It will also shut down Google+.
Social Media

Sick of Facebook privacy scandals? Here's how to protect your personal data

With a number of security scandals in 2018, it has us questioning if we should get rid of Facebook. Here's how to protect your personal data without deleting your account, as well as how to just nuke the thing altogether.
Social Media

These are the best ways to make an animated GIF

Love sharing GIFs with your friends and peers, but wish you could make your own? Here's how to do so in Photoshop, or using a few other methods that don't require you to shell out a premium fee with each calendar year.
Social Media

Instagram says its A.I. can track down bullying in photos

Instagram is turning to artificial intelligence to help it root out bullying on its platform. Following similar efforts to target bullying in comments, the company now has systems capable of detecting bullying in photos, too.
Social Media

Snapchat is using VR to let you step inside its new original shows

Tuning in to your favorite shows not enough? Snap Originals will allow viewers to set into a virtual set. The new exclusive shows debut today with three different shows. Snap Originals are vertical, short, and exclusive to the platform.
Social Media

3D Facebook photos jump out of the newsfeed, no glasses needed

You're not seeing things -- that photo in your Facebook newsfeed is 3D. Launching today, 3D Facebook Photos use the depth maps from dual-lens smartphones to add dimension to an image as you move your phone.