A official account on twitter screams it. "I’m not dead!" – the tweet comes on the heels of a celeb tweetspere of top ranked online popular figures. Justin Bieber, Bruno Mars, even as social media marketers rode the wave of the trending topic.
All after a young man in the Philippines put online the tweet that actor Rowan Atkinson was dead. The tweet was spammed and then retweeted in a pattern called ‘seeding’ a technique popular with social media marketers and online trend builders.
It all started probably as a boring sunday for a young man in the Philippines. With thirty million people online and relatively low internet costs of about a dollar a day for mobile internet. It is a major hub of social media marketing and trend builders. The tweet didn’t orignate from the young man he says he got off of a facebook feed himself.
Michael Mejas, sent a quick message from his twitter account; RIP Rowan Atkinson goodbye Mr. Bean – the simple message – which he later retracted but not before it led to a frenzy of retweets and some false tweets from people claiming to work for the UK national health service in hospitals in Great Britain.
The frenzy went global – so much traffic that Wikipedia editors actually added a date of death to Mr. Atkinson’s entry on the online encyclopedia. Mr. Atkinson’s recent letter to the BBC over ‘artististic freedom’ issues didn’t help him either. In a tactic of slamming or smearing Mr. Bean RIP became not just a topic favorite here – but – gloablly as well.
Mr. Mejas is now under tweet attack scores of online tweet fans of Mr. Bean have been active including top tweet celebs like Justin Bieber and Bruno Mars. Both telling thier fans the tweet was a hoax.
Mr. Mejas tweeted on topic about seven times. Some linked to a screamer file tiny url.
"It is irresponsible content like this that hurts people and even destroys reputations which raises concerns for us. There also is a problem over irresponsible social media or hoaxes or false rumor mongering that can even kill – like spreading panic." A aide to Sec. Voltiare Gazmin of the Philippine National Defense Department noted while Mejas tweet is not a issue it is hoaxes and spam desiguised as information which sometimes is used to spread virus links or rumors. "While it may seem like a joke or even harmless to some – we have had situations where in times of disaster people are given false information through social media leading to problems."
While no formal complaint has been raised, authorities in the Philippines are considering talking to Mr. Mejas and other Hoax spreaders online – A investigator of the INTERPOL division of the National Bureau of Investigation admitted that a request from "law enforcement in the UK" who have expressed a desire to know more about the young man and his motives behind the tweets. "Its not being taken too seriously more of checking if there’s more to it than a prank." the National Bureau of Investigation official said further "We have bigger issues to deal with in cyber crime but we always look into things like this also just to see what is happening."
For now Mr. Mejas on his Facebook and twitter pages has apologized repeatedly for the comments. "I never thought my tweet about RIP Rowan Atkinson would be that viral, it gone worldwide. It was just a joke." But has so far refused to take the mater further. "My twitter account might be shut down, the whole world is mad at me." he added in Filipino.
"He got his fame for 1 minute" now its time to move on and wait for the next tweet rumor. Clift DaLuz A Philippine New Media executive on Philippine television was more direct. " That’s how powerful twitter is and that’s what some stupid and irresponsible people do when they don’t know what to do with that power. They abuse it."