‘Tommy Scott is not dead’ aka ‘When April Fool’s Day jokes go wrong’

 April 1, 2009         Leave a comment

Another cautionary tale about Twitter, and about April Fool’s Day – this one concerns Tommy Scott, the bloke who was in Space, and an internet rumour that he had died.

Not exactly the height of sophistication, and not remotely funny, and that’s before you factor the news somehow filtering back to Scott’s mother.

I noticed this news circulating around Twitter’s Liverpool fraternity last night and though it a bit odd.

An official press release from his record company Antipop had said: “We are sorry for the untimely death of one of our great sons” and detailed that he died of heart failure.

It didn’t surprise me an hour or so later to see that it was, in fact, a hoax.

Why exactly anyone though this funny in the first place is a bit baffling, but if you release something like this it will take on a life of its own.

And surely the whole idea of an April Fool’s Day joke is that it’s patently absurd, but hopefully a tiny bit believable.

Since the Scott prank is not remotely funny and quite believable it’d doubly pointless.

The Echo described Liverpool’s music fraternity as ‘united in grief, which quickly turned to anger’, though I suppose you could add ‘when we phoned them up for a quote and told them about it,’ if you were a cynic.

Still, it goes to show the power of social media. It’s fairly obvious that someone at Scott’s current label dreamed up the hoax, perhaps as a bit of cheap publicity, or perhaps as a rather naive prank.

In time gone by a stunt like this would have quickly died or been exposeed as untrue before it got to a wider audience. But in the age of the internet even small mistakes are exposed and can spread like wildfire, as the person behind ‘Cisco fatty’ found to her cost.

The Cisco Fatty lost a job, the idea of Tommy Scott’s mother weeping at the fictional loss of her son exposes the terribly cruel consequences of a simple-minded stunt that the amplifying power of the internet can have.

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