The UK Telegraph has admitted to publishing a tweet from a fake Twitter account for Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zidan, after iMediaEthics’ inquiry.
Zidan doesn’t have his own Twitter account, but someone is tweeting from the account @AliZidanPM, as iMediaEthics has written. The Daily Mail, Reuters, The Telegraph and other outlets quoted from @AliZidanPM account after the real Zidan was briefly kidnapped this month, but the account was phony. Reuters retracted its story and the Daily Mail tried to cover up its error.
The Sunday Telegraph‘s chief foreign correspondent Colin Freeman e-mailed iMediaEthics this week about the Telegraph‘s publication of a tweet from the account.
“We have now established to our own satisfaction that the Twitter account you mentioned in your earlier email was not that of the Libyan prime minister, and have appended the footnote beneath to the liveblog in question.”
While the Telegraph left the fake tweet intact on its live blog about Zidan’s kidnapping, at the bottom is this editor’s note:
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“Editor’s note – the entry in the above live blog at 11.25, quoting a Tweet from the Libyan prime minister saying that he had been freed, was later revealed to be from a Twitter account that had no connection to the prime minister of Libya or his office.”
The blog entry at 11:25 still reads:
“Ali Zeidan has just confirmed on Twitter that he is free, and is fine.
“His captors wanted him to resign, he said.
“I am fine, thank God. If the aim of the kidnapping operation was for me to present my resignation, then I won’t resign. We are taking small steps, but in the right direction. *”
iMediaEthics asked Freeman if the Telegraph would consider replacing the live blog entry of the bogus tweet with the editor’s note.
Freeman responded: “Sorry, that’s the way that we’ve deemed it best to be done, as it will be more easily visible at the bottom than half way through. In any event, the live blog is unlikely to be re-read by many people.”