Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

How to Hoodwink Twitter (Hint: It’s Easy)

How can you use Twitter to spread falsehoods? So easy! So many options! Here are three:

  • Make up a story about the death of a celebrity. Any celebrity.
  • Make up a story about Apple (AAPL). Any story.
  • Make up a story about Conan O’Brien and get the crowd at a Digg event to pass it along for you.

We saw the last one in action Saturday night at a South by Southwest event, when pranksters cooked up a stupid story about the unemployed talk show host, designed in part to promote a Web video studio.

This one didn’t get picked up by the mainstream press, but it did find plenty of takers for a while on Twitter.

CNET’s Daniel Terdiman, who happily participated in the hoax, describes it in great detail here. If you want the short version, here’s a video of the event’s genesis, provided by David Spark. Pretty simple stuff: Anyone can do it.

[Image credit: LiveFromAmsterdam]

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik