UPDATE: The EDL denies that the Tweet was genuine, and state that they are “in contact with Twitter”
UPDATE 2: The source of the screenshot has posted a video – see here. The video shows a computer desktop, on which the relevant Twitter page is shown to be open in the Opera browser . He uses the cursor to highlight the text, to click “Reply to Tweet”, and to open the same page on another tab, bringing up a “Sorry, that page doesn’t exist!” message. The url for the missing Tweet is shown as being https://twitter.com/Official_EDL/status/241922092158143412. The time on his desktop starts at 19.58, which is 22 hours after the time on the the alleged Tweet.
UPDATE 3: The EDL Twitter feed continues to deny the accusation, promising that “we will have the proof soon”, and warning that police will become involved unless the source admits to faking the Tweet. Also, another person has made a video showing that it is possible doctor the text within a browser (and, it appears, the url, although this is less clearly demonstrated).
UPDATE 4: This site, belonging to Tom Royal, explains that Twitter urls are generated from their timestamps by a piece of software called Snowflake, and that this software can thus be used to “decode” urls in order to determine when a Tweet was made. Royal found that url in the video relates to a timestamp from September. Jamie Bartlett has further information to show that the Tweet cannot be genuine.
UPDATE 5: The source of the alleged (and now thoroughly debunked) screenshot is now “account suspended” on Twitter.
A number of anti-English Defence League Twitter feeds are currently publicising a screenshot which purports to show the official EDL Twitter feed (@official_edl) celebrating the the latest school massacre in the USA:
If those kids were children to filthy leftists, Adam Lanza did the right thing This world is being destroyed by leftists #Newtown #EDL #NFSE
The screenshot shows that the Tweet is timestamped 10:11pm, presumably GMT. It does not appear in the @official_edl Twitter feed, which has no Tweets between 10:04pm and 10:05am.
The question, of course, is whether the Tweet was genuine but quickly removed, or whether it is a fake created for propaganda reasons. Nobody posted the Tweet’s url, there is no record of it on Google or Yahoo, nobody appears to have replied to it, and nobody seems to have downloaded a copy of the page.
As far as I can tell, the only person who claims to have seen it first hand is a certain JasonWillman3, who posted the screenshot at 12:49am. He describes himself being as a “newbie” (“I’m new to this Twitter thing so bear with me GUYS!”); this scoop was in fact his first ever Tweet, but he knew enough about Twitter to draw it to the attention of a couple of anti-EDL feeds. A few minutes later, he explained that he had come across the Tweet while “casually scrolling through #Newtown feed”. His follow list, which is currently quite short, suggests a primary interest in the EDL, with anti-EDL Twitter feeds as the first feeds he chose to follow.
However, there does seem to be more than one screenshot doing the rounds: JasonWillman3′s version shows some of the official_edl background wallpaper; another version (provenance unknown, but first appearance seems to be 6.56am) has just the @official_edl heading and the text, but does appear slightly crisper – this perhaps suggests that they are two independent images, although I’m reluctant pronounce on technical matters (and it’s possible for more than one hoax image to exist). In both images, the “Follow” button has not been clicked.
Without better documentation, I’m inclined towards scepticism.
UPDATE (posted before UPDATE 2 above): As now noted above, the EDL has stated that they did not make the Tweet, and that they are in contact with Twitter about it. If the Tweet is indeed a hoax, it seems to me most likely that it was created by someone using a different account (probably an account with no followers and in “Protected” mode) and then deleting the evidence very quickly. If so, Twitter should have a record it.
Whatever the truth turns out to be, it’s a foul thing to have written given the tragedy in Newtown, and likely to be an act of criminal malicious communication under British law. And if the author turns out to be a faker, a defence of “I didn’t mean it myself, I was just trying to discredit the EDL” ought to cut no ice.
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