Faking Felix Baumgartner a great Twitter lesson in checking the facts

A really good Slideshare here from Ultra Social UK founder @suellewellyn on why it pays to check who exactly it is you’re retweeting when a major news story breaks.

There is a growing possibility that it is not who you think as spammers and parody accounts take to social media in increasingly large numbers.

As Felix Baumgartner skydived from the edge of space in his record breaking stunt on Sunday, social media lit up with him.

His jump scored eight million concurrent views on YouTube and racked up more than 3.1m tweets. Many were retweeting the man they thought was Felix Baumgartner, but they were in fact tweeting fakes.

This is despite the biggest fake accouunt being clearly labelled as such raising even more questions as to why people were retweeting a parody account:

Baumgartner had no official Twitter account for the jump with all tweets going through the verified @RedBullStratos account and through its Facebook page.

That didn’t stop lots of fake Twitter accounts springing up and quickly gaining thousands of followers.

The event, which was massively promoted by Red Bull through its own sites as well as social media channels and PR activity, has proved a “quick lesson in verification” and highlights neatly how a major news event attracts spammers and parodies.

In a different way we saw that in the wake of the first US presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney after the Republican challenger said he would cut funding to PBS — home of Sesame Street and Big Bird.

Almost immediately lots of Big Bird accounts took to Twitter. Check out the rest of this Slideshare to get an idea of how the Felix Baumgartner story took off.

 

The fake accounts were only one of the aspects of social media that Red Bull had to deal with.

The energy drink congratulated Baumgartner on the Red Bull Stratos Facebook page… but someone there didn’t quite read the message all that well before they hit update.