7 Ways We Could Tell That AP Tweet Was Fake


On Tuesday the twitter feed of the Associated Press was hacked, and a fake tweet about President Obama being injured in an explosion at the White House was sent out. The AP quickly took down the account and announced that the tweet was false, but for a full two minutes, hearts beat faster, jaws dropped, and the stock market tumbled.

Any eagle-eyed editor, however, could tell from the form of the tweet that something was not quite right. Let's take a red pen to it and see.

1. A lack of All Caps

In AP tweets about breaking news, "breaking" is always in all caps.

2. An Errant Capital

There is no good reason for "explosions" to be capitalized here.

3. Clause Issues

Since a full independent clause follows the "and," there should be a comma before it. It's also strange that the clause before the "and" has no verb. The AP does sometimes use verbless clauses in its tweets, but to join a verbless clause to a complete sentence in this way is very strange. Here's how the AP usually does this kind of thing:

Two complete sentences should be joined with a semicolon.

4. "Barack Obama" isn't AP Style 

It is AP style to write "President Obama." They may occasionally use "President Barack Obama" or "Obama," but never "Barack Obama."

5. That missing period

There should be a period here or a colon followed by a link to a story. During breaking news, AP tweets do sometimes leave off the final period, but add this to all the other mistakes, and it looks very suspicious.

6. It came from the web

AP tweets are sent through the social media service Social Flow. The fake tweet was sent via the web.

7. Says Who?

When something happens that thousands of people witness, like an earthquake, you might get a report that just tells you it's happening. But something that happens inside a building? Inside the White House? For that, you're definitely going to need an "officials say." "Officials say" or "police say" is even more necessary in cases where injuries are reported.

Meanwhile, the parody account @FakeAPStylebook took advantage of the situation to promote their own style advice:

Paris is Selling Its Love Locks, and Donating the Proceeds to Refugee Organizations

Paris officials have turned an urban problem into a public service: They’re selling the city’s “love locks” as souvenirs and donating the proceeds to refugee groups. The Guardian first reported the news back in December, and now—beginning on Saturday, May 13—the locks will be auctioned off online.

For traveling couples, the padlocks they affixed to the iron grills of the French city’s bridges, initials scrawled on the surface, were a symbol of romance. But to Parisian officials, they were a civil danger. Fearing that the locks would weaken overpasses like the Pont des Arts, the city began dismantling the metal trinkets in 2015.

Left with 1 million padlocks (which totaled 65 metric tons of scrap metal), authorities needed a creative way to repurpose the waste. So they decided to sell 10 metric tons of locks to members of the public, marketing them as relics of the city’s bygone history.

“Members of the public can buy five or 10 locks, or even clusters of them, all at an affordable price,” Bruno Julliard, first deputy mayor of Paris, said in a statement quoted by The Guardian in 2016. “All of the proceeds will be given to those who work in support and in solidarity of the refugees in Paris.”

The locks will be sold in a variety of lots, some of them just as a single souvenir, others in groups. Smaller lots are expected to sell for anywhere from $100 to $200, while pieces of the padlocked railings could go for as much as $5000 to $9000 apiece. Proceeds will benefit the Salvation Army, Emmaus Solidarity, and Solipam.

99-Year-Old Woman Checks "Spending Time in Jail" Off Her Bucket List

When a senior looks back on his or her life to assess their triumphs and regrets, “not getting arrested” typically falls into the former category. But according to the BBC, a 99-year-old woman in the Netherlands wished she had spent time in the slammer. To help her achieve this unconventional bucket list dream, law officers let the woman, named Annie, hang out in a jail cell—with handcuffs on—at the police station in the eastern Dutch town of Nijmegen-Zuid.

Annie has her family to thank for the experience. "Her niece came to us with this request," a police officer told the BBC. "When she was reporting a crime, she told the police officer about Annie's 'bucket list.'"

"You get many unusual requests with this profession," he added. "We thought it would be nice to do something special for Annie."

Politie Nijmegen-Zuid/Facebook

As you can see in the photos above, Annie’s brush with the law was a blast. However, she isn’t the only senior who has wondered what life is like behind bars. Last year, a 102-year-old woman named Edie Simms from St. Louis, Missouri was faux-arrested per her own bucket list request. Police teamed up with a local senior center to make Simms’s dream come true. "She was so excited that she can ride in a police car and she said, 'Do you think you could put those handcuffs on me?'" Michael Howard, executive director of Five Star Senior Center, told KPLR. Talk about centenarians gone wild!

[h/t BBC]


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