Internet sleuth unmasks Hurricane Sandy’s ‘worst Twitter villain’

internet sleuth unmasks hurricane sandys worst twitter villain sandyA Twitter user who posted a series of fake news updates, many of which were reported by international media outlets, has apologized for his actions after being outed by an Internet sleuth.

Quite why Shashank Tripathi – tweeting under the name ComfortablySmug – felt the need to spread misinformation about a harrowing event (during the event) where people are losing their possessions, their homes, and in some cases their lives, is a question only he can answer, but at the time of writing the hedge fund analyst, who was up until today also campaign manager for Republican congressional candidate Christopher Wight, has issued only an apology for his actions.

“I wish to offer the people of New York a sincere, humble and unconditional apology,” Tripathi wrote. “During a natural disaster that threatened the entire city, I made a series of irresponsible and inaccurate tweets. While some would use the anonymity and instant feedback of social media as an excuse, I take full responsibility for my actions. I deeply regret any distress or harm they may have caused.”

Confusion

At a time when many New Yorkers – along with millions of others on the East Coast – were wondering if their home was about to be blown away, flooded or reduced to ashes, Tripathi added to the confusion of the rapidly unfolding events with tweets such as, “BREAKING: Confirmed flooding on NYSE. The trading floor is flooded under 3 feet of water,” and “BREAKING: Con Edison has begun shutting down ALL power in Manhattan.”

With a number of journalists among his 6,000 followers, many of his tweets were mistakenly picked up by news outlets and broadcast around the world. But perhaps more importantly, with others retweeting his misleading messages in good faith, anxious people in the affected areas looking for accurate up-to-date news via the microblogging site will have been subjected to little more than time-wasting and confusing information – information which then had to be refuted by businesses that no doubt had enough on their plate at the time.

Internet sleuth

So incensed was BuzzFeed’s Jack Stuef by ComfortablySmug’s fake tweets that he took it upon himself to track down the perpetrator. Calling him “Hurricane Sandy’s worst Twitter villain,” Stuef claims to have discovered the true identity of ComfortablySmug through censored photos on his Twitter feed which he found uncensored elsewhere. Tripathi’s apology soon followed, along with the announcement that he was stepping down as Wight’s campaign manager.

Few will argue with the notion that social media can be a source of huge help and reassurance during a disaster such as Hurricane Sandy, but as this episode shows, we still have to be able to sort the truth from the lies. The shaming of Tripathi has hopefully put an end to the online dissemination of the future falsehoods of at least one clown.

[Image: Ch4 News]

Social Media

Twitter keeps your direct messages, even years after you delete them

Twitter is keeping copies of direct messages sent through the social network even years after users delete them, according to security researcher Karan Saini who discovered an archive containing old DMs from deleted and suspended accounts.
Movies & TV

Stay inside this winter with the best shows on Hulu, including 'Legion'

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we 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, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Norsemen’

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.
Movies & TV

J.J. Abrams wraps production on Star Wars: Episode IX with a heartfelt message

Star Wars: The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams has wrapped production on Star Wars: Episode IX, which he directed and co-wrote. Here's everything we know about the movie before it premieres in December 2019.
Social Media

Periscope tool adds guests to feeds so streamers can become talk show hosts

Periscope users can now invite viewers to chime into the conversation with more than just the comment tool. By enabling the option to add guests, livestreamers can add guests to the conversation, in audio format only.
Photography

Crouching, climbing, and creeping, the perfect Instagram shot knows no bounds

Just how far will you go for the perfect Instagram? A recent survey shows just how willing Instagram users -- and Instagram husbands -- are to climb, lie down, embarrass themselves or let their food go cold for the perfect shot.
Social Media

Facebook’s long-promised ‘unsend’ feature arrives. Here’s how to use it

Send a message to the wrong person? Messenger now gives you 10 minutes to take it back. After an update beginning to roll out today, users can now retract messages if they act within the first 10 minutes after sending the message.
Social Media

YouTube boss admits even her own kids gave the ‘Rewind’ video a thumbs down

YouTube's 2018 Rewind video went down like a lead balloon at the end of last year, becoming the most disliked video in its history. And now YouTube's CEO has admitted that even her own kids thought it was pretty darn awful.
Social Media

Snapchat finally recovers from its redesign — so here comes an Android update

Snapchat's drop in users after launching a controversial redesign has finally stagnated. During the fourth quarter and 2018 earnings report, Snapchat shared that the company is rolling out an Android update designed to increase performance.
Social Media

Skype’s new ‘blur background’ feature could help keep you from blushing

Skype's latest feature for desktop lets you blur your background during video calls. The idea is that it keeps you as the focus instead of distracting others with whatever embarrassing things you might have on show behind you.
Social Media

Twitter users are declining but more people are seeing ads every day

Twitter's end-of-the-year report for 2018 is a mix of good and bad news. The good news is that more users are seeing adds daily, the metric the company will focus on moving forward. But the bad news is that monthly active users are…
Web

Switch up your Reddit routine with these interesting, inspiring, and zany subs

So you've just joined the wonderful world of Reddit and want to explore it. With so many subreddits, however, navigating the "front page of the internet" can be daunting. Here are some of the best subreddits to get you started.
Computing

YouTube beats Apple, Netflix as the most trusted brand by millennials

The popular video sharing website YouTube climbed up in an annual Mblm study, moving up from third place in 2018 and coming ahead of both Apple and Netflix in final 2019 rankings. 
Social Media

LinkedIn finally gets around to launching its own live video tool

Live video is coming to LinkedIn for businesses and individuals on the site. The livestreaming feature is launching in beta in the U.S. before rolling out to the entire community.