Twitter helps spread Formspring.me hoax

Twitter is abuzz today with a story attributed to popular news wire service The Associated Press. The new trending topic spotlights Formspring.me, a social network that lets users create profiles to post and answer questions anonymously, and its CEO, who was supposedly arrested two days ago for an elaborate scheme to release private customer information to the public on April 1.

But the story was just dubbed a hoax by news site The Inquisitr, which points out numerous “mistakes” in the supposed AP story: there’s no record of the story existing on the AP’s web site, there’s no set date for the story and it doesn’t fit AP style guidelines. The Inquisitr also points out the most telling hint: the story wasn’t picked up by any other major news or technology outlets. Surely this would happen if it was put out on the real AP’s wire. That said, several major media sites did fall for it, including MediaBistro, which has since corrected the record.

Additional clues that the story is a hoax include that Formspring.me’s CEO isn’t named Mark Baxter at all, but rather Ade Olonoh. Also, the allegedly Los Angeles-based startup may actually be located in Indianapolis, Ind. according to the CEO’s Twitter profile.

The original image of the AP story includes a link to BenKling.com, who’s a Boston-based freelance animator, web designer, and writer according to his biography. But when you try to visit the link now, you’re forwarded to The Inquisitr’s recent article that the post is fake.

This incident is yet another example of how Twitter holds the power to quickly spread news whether it’s true or not. An inquiry sent to the Associated Press California office has not yet been answered about whether the story is in fact true or fake. Once we receive confirmation, we’ll update this post.