A message left by a Twitter user claiming to be trapped under rubble after a powerful earthquake later turned out to be fake, causing outrage across Japan.
In the early evening of Friday, December 7, a magnitude-7.3 earthquake with its epicentre off the northeast coast of Japan caused tremors so large that the Tokyo cafe in which my boss and I sat fell silent as patrons no doubt began wondering whether they ought to take cover beneath their tables. Windows rattled and the entire building creaked and swayed for almost five minutes after the tremors stopped.
As people reached for their mobile phones, expressions of concern could be seen throughout the room as talk of “possible tsunami” and “northeast Japan” appeared on social networks and news sites.
Soon after, a tweet (pictured above) appeared online asking for help and requesting that the message be shared as much as possible. Within the next hour, concerned Twitter users had retweeted the message more than 13,000 times, with many sending messages asking for more information about the user’s location and encouraging them to remain calm.
When the writer of the original tweet resurfaced hours later, however, and began mocking those who fell for the prank, people were understandably very upset, and soon began demanding that the tweet writer’s real identity to be determined and for them brought to justice.