One of the biggest stories of the weekend and definitely the biggest story to come out of Afghanistan involves the tragic loss of life that allegedly came at the hands of an American solider.
According to multiple reports, an unidentified U.S. solider, acting alone, went on a killing spree that took the lives of 16 Afghani people. Not only are the dead being identified as civilians, but they also include three women and nine children according to reports out of Afghanistan. For his part, President Obama has said that the killings were “tragic and shocking” and that they do not represent “the exceptional character of our military.”
Apparently, a suspect is in custody. The appalling incident is obviously not the best thing that could happen to U.S. – Afghani relations, and tensions are bound to ramp up following these killings. One of the first things that come to mind concerns how this could fuel Anti-American sentiment in the region. For their part, the Taliban has already vowed to seek revenge for the incident.
Also probably not helping things was a Twitter account that popped up on Monday claiming to be the new official account of Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai. Here’s how he started it off:
Welcome to my Official Twitter Account. Hamid Karzai
The assassination of 16 afghans is a real crime, an act of war against our country
Uh oh, right? The account quickly gained thousands of followers and some users began to take notice of the unsettling messages coming from the account:
@PresHamidKarzai: The assassination of 16 afghans is a real crime, an act of war against our countryThis is not good. RT
@PresHamidKarzai: The assassination of 16 afghans is a real crime, an act of war against our countrywow RT
But in true Twitter fashion, what sometimes seems too strange to be true usually is. Much like the frequent death hoaxes that plague the social network, fake accounts have the tendency to pop up and oftentimes gain a bit of attention. Only this time, it doesn’t seem that funny.
A spokesman for the President had this to say in a statement:
I deny such tweets are tweeted on behalf of the presidential palace of Afghanistan. The president does not have any account nor (does) he use Twitter.
And then came this tweet, the last one from the account:
This account is a fake created by the italian journalist Tommasso Debenedetti
As far as the account’s purported creator, it appears that a Twitter hoax is not his first foray into hoaxes.
Twitter is a great place for rapid-fire news and commentary, sometimes directly from the source. Just make sure you question everything you see. In a case like this, look to see if the account is verified (that little blue check mark by the name). This particular fake Karzai account was never verified by Twitter.