The Daily Mail has scrubbed an article to cover up being hoaxed by a fake Twitter account for Libyan prime minister Ali Zidan.
As iMediaEthics wrote this past week, Zidan doesn’t have a Twitter account. But, there is a fake, albeit convincing, Twitter account under his name. That fake account, @AliZidanPM, posts news related to Zidan and Libya. After Zidan’s recent kidnapping and release, the Twitter account tweeted a statement about Zidan’s abduction, which several news outlets thought was a real statement.
The Daily Mail, as well as other news outlets, fell for the fake tweet and reported on it as if it was a real statement from Zidan. Reuters and The Guardian have both retracted posts based on the tweets.
iMediaEthics wrote to the Daily Mail last week seeking a correction and explaining that the @AliZidanPM account was fake. While we haven’t heard back from the Mail, we did notice that as of Oct. 15, the Mail deleted the story’s reference to and quote from the Zidan Twitter account. According to a timestamp on the post, the story was updated on Oct. 14. Readers who go to the story now wouldn’t know the Mail had been hoaxed because the newspaper failed to post a correction.
But, the Mail‘s cover-up was sloppy for two reasons.
1. For one, iMediaEthics has a screenshot of the original error. See below.
2. The second failure was with the Mail‘s scrubbing: While the Mail deleted the story’s reference to the tweet, it forgot to delete a reference in the story summary. See below a screenshot of a story summary atop the article.
iMediaEthics has again reached out to the Mail for a transparent correction. We’ll update with any response.