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Fake News and the CNN Porn Scare

A likely fake tweet has spread like wildfire through legitimate news outlets.

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Last night, a twitter account with the handle @solikearose posted a screenshot from CNN, which was supposedly airing porn mistakenly, instead of it’s scheduled content. A media firestorm erupted with several major new outlets reporting on the incident without any real attempt at verifying the story. At first, The Independent reported on the incident, basing their story solely on @solikearose’s tweets. The Drudge Report then tweeted as well, and after that, it spread fast. The New York Post, Mashable, The Daily Mail, Esquire and Variety all posted stories on CNN’s supposed mishap. Even CNN themselves got involved, releasing the statement: “The RCN cable operator in Boston aired inappropriate content for 30 minutes on CNN last night. CNN has asked for an explanation.”

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The tweet that started it all

Many of the original stories didn’t include comments from CNN or RCN, the cable company which supposedly aired the porn. Fact checking didn’t begin until after the items had been posted, and by then @solikearose’s twitter account had become private and there were no reports of CNN having broadcast porn in the area where the twitter user supposedly resided. “We are in the process of researching this incident but see no evidence our CNN network feed was compromised last evening in Boston,” Jeff Carlson, SVP and general manager of RCN Boston, said in a statement.

The wildfire spread of this story is understandable. It’s quite funny to think that CNN goofed up enough to accidentally air hard core porn, and even more so when the program scheduled was Anothony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown. The story is an invitation to jokes and puns and is sure to get a lot of people clicking and reading. This is however, exactly how fake news spreads. Sensational headlines with few facts to back them up shouldn’t be reported on so quickly. While it hasn’t yet been conclusively determined if CNN did air porn (though it is highly unlikely), the fact remains that if they actually did, most of the news stories surrounding it used a tweet as their source. That should serve as a warning to always take what you see with a grain of salt.

source: The Verge

 

David F.
A grad student in experimental physics, David is fascinated by science, space and technology. When not buried in lecture books, he enjoys movies, gaming and mountainbiking

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