Internet Outs Fake Hurricane Tweeter

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Internet Outs Fake Hurricane Tweeter

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A Twitter user who anonymously posted fake "breaking news" about the devastation being wrought by Hurricane Sandy has had his identity revealed to the world.

It's no great secret that people act like jerks when they think they're safely shrouded in an impenetrable cloak of anonymity. Case in point: Twitter user ComfortablySmug, who posted several alarming tweets last night about the chaotic state of affairs in New York City, including that ConEd would shut down all power to the entire city at 3 am today, that the subway system would be closed for the remainder of the week, that the floor of the New York Stock Exchange was under three feet of water and that the governor of New York was trapped in Manhattan.

All of the above tweets were eventually refuted, but not until they'd been retweeted more than 500 times. The attention naturally led some people to wonder why a person would do such a thing, especially during a time of crisis, and that in turn led to wondering about who would do such a thing. And as we should all know by now, anonymity is tough to maintain when the internet decides that it wants to know who you are.

So it is that ComfortablySmug was unmasked in short order as New York City resident Shashank Tripathi, thanks to censored images he'd posted to the Twitter account that were found unedited elsewhere. Tripathi is a hedge fund analyst, "prolific commenter at NYmag.com" and campaign manager for Christopher Wight, the Republican candidate for U.S. House of Representatives from New York's 12th district. He said in a 2009 interview that he's "not as blatantly an asshole in person" as he appears to be online, but still has "asshole tendencies."

And why did he do it? It's possible that he could have been driven by some warped political partisanship; the tweets suggest a failure of leadership in the face of a massive disaster and at one point he wrote, "Well Wall St is basically destroyed. Obama has accomplished the mission of his first term in office. We cant afford four more. #Mitt2012". Or maybe he really is just a jerk. He's not saying either way; after tweeting regularly and often throughout the worst of the storm, the ComfortablySmug account has been silent since early yesterday afternoon.

Sources: BuzzFeed FWD, BuzzFeed Politics

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Well... now he knows. The internet will find you!

This guy really should've known better...

Did he really think he wasn't going to get exposed?

How could Obama possibly be responsible for Sandy?
Unless... he isn't from Kenya...
HE'S FROM CLOUDSDALE!

I've got a friend from New York City I haven't heard from yet. I've been following the news and caught static from this guy's lies all night.

Fuck Shashank Tripathi.

With a rake.

Sorry, whats the problem? Sounds to me like he is applying for a job at fox news.

I think the "Justin Bieber has cancer, so shave your heads" thing is worse than this (I did read that was a troll).

This was just above the level of "of course it's fake" than the Razer I.V that Razer put up on there website a couple of April fools day's ago.

More proof that if you vote Republican your helping to destroy the US.

And it is @ this time I urge all my fellow Escapists to vote for Mitt Romney and any and all Republicans you can. Together we can all do our parts. To help destroy this piece of shit country.

Oh and that guy is an asshole. Not surprising. And really how much of a fucking dumbass do you have to be to not realize that if you do shit like this the internet WILL FIND OUT who you are.

What a douche! He probably lost a few votes for Wight with his shenanigans. I'd fire him asap.

DVS BSTrD:
How could Obama possibly be responsible for Sandy?
Unless... he isn't from Kenya...
HE'S FROM CLOUDSDALE!

Your comment, mixed with your avatar, is just perfect

Also, has anyone gotten away with anything on the internet anymore? I feel like everyone always gets exposed/caught

omega 616:
I think the "Justin Bieber has cancer, so shave your heads" thing is worse than this (I did read that was a troll)

While I get where you're coming from, There is a big difference.

Imagine that you had a Family Member/Personal Friend/Etc Living in NY.
Now you get news though Tweeter that the city that they are in is basically torn a new one, Therefore meaning that you're Family Member/Personal Friend/Etc could be hurt or in Danger.
I.E.

Formica Archonis:
I've got a friend from New York City I haven't heard from yet. I've been following the news and caught static from this guy's lies all night.

Fuck Shashank Tripathi.

With a rake.

Fooling kids dumb enough to shave their hair because a guy on the Internet says so is bad, but causing widespread anxiety over the safety of Family and Friends is WAY worse.

DVS BSTrD:
How could Obama possibly be responsible for Sandy?
Unless... he isn't from Kenya...
HE'S FROM CLOUDSDALE!

Or he's from Charles Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters.

Diablo1099:

omega 616:
I think the "Justin Bieber has cancer, so shave your heads" thing is worse than this (I did read that was a troll)

While I get where you're coming from, There is a big difference.

Imagine that you had a Family Member/Personal Friend/Etc Living in NY.
Now you get news though Tweeter that the city that they are in is basically torn a new one, Therefore meaning that you're Family Member/Personal Friend/Etc could be hurt or in Danger.
I.E.

Formica Archonis:
I've got a friend from New York City I haven't heard from yet. I've been following the news and caught static from this guy's lies all night.

Fuck Shashank Tripathi.

With a rake.

Fooling kids dumb enough to shave their hair because a guy on the Internet says so is bad, but causing widespread anxiety over the safety of Family and Friends is WAY worse.

Maybe I'm different but if I was in that situation with a family member in a place where a hurricane was going over, then I read some trolls tweets (dunno why I would be on twitter though), I wouldn't start with the "Oh my god"s .... I would type into google "damage from hurricane in wherever" then verify with 1 or 2 websites that it has happened.

Rather than believing some random person on the internet.

How many times have you read "I'm a lawyer", "I'm a med student", "I'm a marine" etc and how many times do you believe that? Sure if they say something and you fact check it, you might give them more trust but it's rare I believe anybody.

I would be less inclined to believe a Joe shmoe is breaking news before any other source.

omega 616:
Maybe I'm different but if I was in that situation with a family member in a place where a hurricane was going over, then I read some trolls tweets (dunno why I would be on twitter though), I wouldn't start with the "Oh my god"s .... I would type into google "damage from hurricane in wherever" then verify with 1 or 2 websites that it has happened.

Rather than believing some random person on the internet.

How many times have you read "I'm a lawyer", "I'm a med student", "I'm a marine" etc and how many times do you believe that? Sure if they say something and you fact check it, you might give them more trust but it's rare I believe anybody.

I would be less inclined to believe a Joe schmoe is breaking news before any other source.

Again, I'm with you there, but what about middle aged parents who aren't used to fact checking every strange claim they read on the Internet?
Besides, As you fire up Google and search for facts on the hoex, You're going so because you were worried.
See how that works?

Stay safe, east coast!

Suffice it to say, I don't see any kind of Shashank Redemption for this jackass.

Again, I love being in the midwest this time of year. The only thing we have to worry about around here during the fall is "when is the snow coming?" Now, spring and summer are a whole 'nother can of worms...

I don't get it. What's the big deal? Are people stupid enough to get all their news from twitter nowadays or something?

NeoAC:
Suffice it to say, I don't see any kind of Shashank Redemption for this jackass.

Bah, I knew someone was going to beat me to that beautiful pun. If only I'd read this article earlier. Sigh, I'll be off then.

P.S. Guy's a douche.

omega 616:

Diablo1099:

omega 616:
I think the "Justin Bieber has cancer, so shave your heads" thing is worse than this (I did read that was a troll)

While I get where you're coming from, There is a big difference.

Imagine that you had a Family Member/Personal Friend/Etc Living in NY.
Now you get news though Tweeter that the city that they are in is basically torn a new one, Therefore meaning that you're Family Member/Personal Friend/Etc could be hurt or in Danger.
I.E.

Formica Archonis:
I've got a friend from New York City I haven't heard from yet. I've been following the news and caught static from this guy's lies all night.

Fuck Shashank Tripathi.

With a rake.

Fooling kids dumb enough to shave their hair because a guy on the Internet says so is bad, but causing widespread anxiety over the safety of Family and Friends is WAY worse.

Maybe I'm different but if I was in that situation with a family member in a place where a hurricane was going over, then I read some trolls tweets (dunno why I would be on twitter though), I wouldn't start with the "Oh my god"s .... I would type into google "damage from hurricane in wherever" then verify with 1 or 2 websites that it has happened.

Rather than believing some random person on the internet.

How many times have you read "I'm a lawyer", "I'm a med student", "I'm a marine" etc and how many times do you believe that? Sure if they say something and you fact check it, you might give them more trust but it's rare I believe anybody.

I would be less inclined to believe a Joe shmoe is breaking news before any other source.

It takes time for reporters and journalists to arrive on a scene.

This guy, though... I thought he'd be an Obama supporter trying to discredit the Republican party with those tweets. On the other hand, the Romney campaign has been shooting itself in the foot with similar stupidity throughout the election year. As much as I think Obama's taking this country in the wrong direction, I wish the GoP didn't end up electing someone as libellous and slanderous as Romney... who couldn't lay off the overhyped smear campaigns against even those who shared his ideology.

Well he's a hedge fund analyst, so he already makes more than everyone on the Escapist put together.
Still an asshole spreading lies to further political agendas, because if you invest enough money with the right people, you can become very powerful indeed.

So, is it the guy on the left with his eyes covered or the other guy?
The thing to remember is: you should always question everything you see, hear or read on the internet. And is anyone really surprised it was a Republican behind it? I'm not.

When are people going to stop caring what some asshole posts on twitter? It's getting more annoying every time.

Every damn time there's something 'the internet' gets mad about. Ugh.

So, the guy spreads lies and disinformation, has asshole tendencies, works for the locusts of the global economy and has an inflated opinion of himself?

What do you expect? He IS a Republican, after all.

Oh Republicans.. always sucking more scum than they can handle.

Also, I heard the President of the US is being held captive by a gang-lord in the ruins of New York and we're sending in a special operative to rescue him.

You know, I think this is a phrank being taken a little too seriously. The fact that the guy was using the name "Comfortably Smug" makes it obvious this ws intended to be taken with a grain of salt. Argueing that disasters have to be treated as taboo for humor and such is a bit wrong, had he been using a more "official" sounding screen name I might object, but right now this mostly seems like dumb people missing obvious black humor, and then getting all POed when they realize that they reacted to something that wasn't intended seriously to begin with.

Turning this around and saying it's some serious political ploy because they guy is a Republican is a bit much, and I wonder if the guy was a Democrat doing the same thing if the reaction would have been the same within the media. Trolls and phranksters don't come from one party exclusively, and a lot of people seemed to be making jokes about this, it's just that this one guy's schtick wound up ballooning.

Given that what he said was obvious BS you can tell it wasn't a political stunt, since even in a worst case scenario nobody could expect the "deception" to remain in force until November 6th when it would matter. Assuming of course those jibes could be taken seriously, and anyone actually would blame Obama for the weather.

To be sort of blunt, I'm in Connecticut, right in the middle of the "Frakenstorm". I've mentioned being in New London more than once. It *WAS* nasty (a few big trees came down in my neighborhood) but my street didn't so much as lose power or internet access, though I guess we were relatively lucky since about half of New London did. I don't take jokes especially seriously despite having been scared for a while when the story was actually raging. I expected to lose power at any second.

If I *was* going to blame Obama for something related to the storm, it would be for not being strong handed enough with the evacuations. When his attention was garnered he was basically screaming "take the authorities seriously, no really", in response to how few people went to shelters and such. I was fortunate enough not to be in a mandatory evacuation area, but before the storm hit I myself was pretty worried, and I see the potential for this to have been really bad. IMO Obama kind of reinforced a complete lack for emergency authority, which means if something else happens down the road that IS as bad as this could have been, nobody is going to pay attention either. I kind of felt that Obama probably should have had the National Guard forcibly eject people from their property and stuff them in shelters for the day... mandatory being mandatory. Nobody would have liked it, but people might have taken it more seriously. Next time a bunch of people don't listen, and we see an actual "Katrina" type debacle, you can blame Obama... and to be fair the Governorship of New York, Connecticut, and other states with such "mandatory evactuation" orders that didn't enforce them. I think New London had like 20 people show up in our shelter or something insane like that, we were just very lucky that it turned out to be somewhat less impressive than advertised (although it did do a lot of damage, and I'm sure those on the receiving end of some of the more impressive hits will think it was pretty bad... those who didn't evacuate and rode it out are probably just going to do the same thing next time).

In short, I think Obama was a totally ineffective president, he got involved, and very few people cared what he said or took him seriously. He didn't even seem to remotely care about that either, all he did pretty much was flap his gums while people did whatever the heck they were going to do anyway.

Just thought you guys ought to know, CNN actually believed the tweet about there being water on the floor of the stock exchange. They issued a correction almost immediately (in fact, what they said was "we're getting reports that there's water on the floor, and we're gonna try and verify it") but still, this guy made the national news.

Also, it doesn't matter if he was doing this for partisan reasons or not -- he's still an asshole. In fact, I'd say doing something like this for petty partisan reasons would just make him a bigger asshole.

NeoAC:
Suffice it to say, I don't see any kind of Shashank Redemption for this jackass.


why did you have to take that joke from me! i was soo proud of myself :(

well ill just say what everyone else said this guys is an ass of the highest caliber

I admit that I'm not always the most well behaved person on the internet, but even for me this is going too far. There is a time and a place for such comments, and now really is neither the time nor the place.

Therumancer:

If I *was* going to blame Obama for something related to the storm, it would be for not being strong handed enough with the evacuations. When his attention was garnered he was basically screaming "take the authorities seriously, no really", in response to how few people went to shelters and such. I was fortunate enough not to be in a mandatory evacuation area, but before the storm hit I myself was pretty worried, and I see the potential for this to have been really bad. IMO Obama kind of reinforced a complete lack for emergency authority, which means if something else happens down the road that IS as bad as this could have been, nobody is going to pay attention either. I kind of felt that Obama probably should have had the National Guard forcibly eject people from their property and stuff them in shelters for the day... mandatory being mandatory. Nobody would have liked it, but people might have taken it more seriously.

I dont think that would have resonated good in that paranoid country. I think the democrats prefer the headline " Noone listened to the president" over "The state is using military might to force free american people out of their homes."

Bobic:
-snip-

chaos order:
-snip-

Honestly, I'm surprised I got to it first. Thought for sure it was going to be up when I read the story.

Andy Chalk:
It's possible that he could have been driven by some warped political partisanship; the tweets suggest a failure of leadership in the face of a massive disaster and at one point he wrote, "Well Wall St is basically destroyed. Obama has accomplished the mission of his first term in office. We cant afford four more. #Mitt2012". Or maybe he really is just a jerk.

I'm less than convinced this is an either/or...

This is exactly why I think the interwebz anonymity is getting out of control. Between this, prank threats, hell even SWAT pranks that get pulled on XBL on people, etc. They need to have some sort of internet registration; a lax one though, not enough for "big brother" to keep tabs so much, but one enough so people won't feel they can get away with whatever they choose to when nobody's looking.

This is exactly why I think the interwebz anonymity is getting out of control. Between this, prank threats, hell even SWAT pranks that get pulled on XBL on people, etc. They need to have some sort of internet registration; a lax one though, not enough for "big brother" to keep tabs so much, but one enough so people won't feel they can get away with whatever they choose to when nobody's looking.

In before certain members of the esteemed R&P right wing club come in saying Democrats do it too, without giving a source or using a joke by Bill Maher or something.

OT: There is a time to be a prankster. Now is not the time. And your position speaks highly of this. What are the people voting for your candidate supposed to think?

Anyone who would do such a thing has no place in politics of any kind. There's no party that advocates such irresponsible nonsense, so please don't add fuel to the fire by pointing fingers and calling names.

He knowingly broadcast false information regarding an emergency and that information was magnified by the fact his account was very well connected. I'm quite curious to see what laws, if any, they're able to claim that he broke by doing this. It's easy to fall back on the defense of free speech, but we all know that free speech isn't a defense if you prank call an ambulance to someone's house, or report a fire where there isn't one. It comes down to the fact that he knew what he was saying was false and that it would spread misinformation and, yes, panic.

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