The assassination of Benazir Bhutto sent shock waves around the world, during the short period between her death and her subsequent funeral – there were reports that Bhutto’s son, 19 year-old Oxford undergraduate, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, was named to succeed her as the head of the family’s Pakistan People’s Party.
During this period, a prankster (as documented on digitalspy 1, 2 and consolecity) set up a facebook account using pictures found from the Internet and various other sources and put together an online profile seen by millions of college students around the world.
The prank facebook account did not disappoint in describing a portrait of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, which included his hobbies as being and avid “Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan, and eating junk food” with a picture of Zardari in a Halloween costume.
The prank was, at first, taken verbatim by many journalists and various worldwide sources – until it was uncovered by other journalists and Facebook members who promptly tipped off the website about the phony profile.
Of course, its not the first time that someone has done this, there’s loads of “fake” profiles on facebook, ning, myspace and even going back to Firefly (this is going back to 1997-1998 mind) there were people pretending to be a celebrity when they weren’t, but this is the first time to my mind that someone has used this “tactic” (if you can call it that) to be claim his/her “15 minutes of fame”.
Personally, I’m pretty ambivalent on politics. I don’t have much of a view on political issues, and really don’t have anything new, exciting or interesting to say about political issues but this prank shows 3 things;
(1) Lazy, gullible journalists who have a tight deadline will follow their gut/instinct rather than investigate the story further,
(2) Some people think its okay to use a person’s death to heighten their own “claim to fame”,
(3) You can’t trust the information because it just happens to be on the Internet.
Either way, this strange Facebook prank shows that there is a dark-side to social networking.
- Prankster’s documentation of prank (DigitalSpy)
- Prankster’s documentation of prank (Console City)
- I just fooled The Telegraph into believing I was Benazir Bhutto’s son.(DigitalSpy)
- Bhutto Boy Shows Buffy Facebook Love
- Bogus Facebook entry ‘is smear on son by regime’ (TimesOnline)
- Prankster Playing Bhutto’s Son on Facebook Fools News Outlets