Post-earthquake Twitter prank causes outrage online

By Philip Kendall

A message left by a Twitter user claiming to be trapped under rubble after last Friday's powerful earthquake later turned out to be fake, causing outrage across Japan.

In the early evening of Friday, Dec 7, a magnitude-7.3 earthquake with its epicenter off the northeast coast of Japan caused tremors so large that the Tokyo cafe in which my boss and I sat fell silent as patrons no doubt began wondering whether they ought to take cover beneath their tables. Windows rattled and the entire building creaked and swayed for almost five minutes after the tremors stopped.

As people reached for their mobile phones, expressions of concern could be seen throughout the room as talk of “possible tsunami” and “northeast Japan” appeared on social networks and news sites.

Soon after, a tweet (pictured) appeared online asking for help and requesting that the message be shared as much as possible. Within the next hour, concerned Twitter users had retweeted the message more than 13,000 times, with many sending messages asking for more information about the user’s location and encouraging them to remain calm.

When the writer of the original tweet resurfaced hours later, however, and began mocking those who fell for the prank, people were understandably very upset, and soon began demanding that the tweet writer’s real identity to be determined and for them brought to justice.

“Hahaha, you fell for it! You guys really are dumb, aren’t you! Like hell I’d use Twitter if I were really in trouble!”

Not the kind of message that concerned Internet users were expecting, we’re sure you’d agree.

The tweet came from user @Reonandnene, who was later revealed to be a high school student. Despite the story being picked up by numerous media outlets, however, the user has yet to offer any words of apology, further angering the public who feel that the tweet was in extremely poor taste.

With many people still homeless as a result of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and resulting tsunami and nuclear disaster, not to mention the thousands of people who were killed, Japan is still very much in a state of recovery. Even slight tremors are enough to put people on edge, and with this heightened sense of awareness, it’s only natural that people would be ready to respond to news of someone trapped and crying for help. So when @Reonandnene reappeared online poking fun at those who took the tweet seriously, Twitter users were understandably angry:

-- This is absolutely unforgivable.

-- There really are some genuinely heartless individuals out there.

-- Zero morals.

-- Seriously- stop this crap. It’s not cool.

-- There should be a penalty for this kind of thing.

-- So this was just a sick joke? It’s a shame we can’t do something about people like this.

On the subject of taking action, many Internet users are demanding that the real identity and personal information of the mean-spirited joker be ascertained and that he or she be brought to justice. This incident comes just weeks after another Twitter user wrongly accused a fellow commuter of reading pornography on a train, which ended with everything from the accuser’s name and address to recent high school test scores being posted online. As angry as people are at Friday’s fake tweet writer, many Internet users are calling for calm and stressing that retaliation is not the answer.

Although the cruel prankster mockingly asks why anyone finding themselves in dire straits would turn to the social network, both Twitter and Facebook — accessible by 3G and LTE connections even when the regular phone networks went down — soon became indispensable methods of communication after the earthquake last year, with many unable to contact loved ones by any other means.

Source: 秒刊 Sunday

Read other stories on RocketNews24. -- The Twitter Experiment: Japanese Man Forbidden From Leaving Work Until He Gets 1000 Retweets -- Anonymous Tweets to Japanese Public After 6.27 Attacks, Japanese Public Responds: “Kawaii” -- Host Club Boss Caught on Camera Beating an Elderly Taxi Driver, Internet Outrage Contributes to His Arrest

© RocketNews24

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

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wow...this is sad. There are some people out in the world that might actually have to use this as a way of an S.O.S....I dont think his identity should be brought up but definitely penalties. Like being kicked off of a social network and community service to those effected by the tsunami. This young boy needs some morals and a role model to learn from. I understand pranks and I love pranks even on myself, but this is too much!

6 ( +7 / -1 )

a boy who cries wolf....

3 ( +4 / -1 )

That is extremely disgusting.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

I wonder if hes heard of the story of a boy who cried wolf.. Karma will hopefully get you.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Back to the years of "Carmageddon"

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Damn idiot.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

There is an authority that can punish this high school student appropriately. The kid's parents. Confiscate the smart phone and no Internet for 3 months. Done.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Give this guy 40 hours of community service work as well.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

and make sure he does his commmunity service in some of the hardest hit areas so he realizes why his 'prank' wasn't funny.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Wow...I'm kinda speechless...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

As with financial institutions there should be a black list to be shared by social network providers of those who harm public interest.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Funny, after the Kate's nurse prank by Australian DJ's many Japanese friends claimed Japanese don't play pranks.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Bullying gone national! This idiot should be arrested and given community service in the evacuation shelters in Tohoku region!

4 ( +5 / -1 )

so twitter doesn't allow freedom of speech anymore? good thing i dont use it

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

This kid is the one who's the idiot, not the people who justifiably felt concerned, given what happened last year in particular. And if this kid's not careful, he may not see proper justice but he'll most certainly face mob justice. I would imagine he's already becoming scared, as are his parents. They'll likely have to move.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

Just another TWEET from a TWIT!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

If any a rescue was organized, his prank could land him in jail or at the very least a bill to his parents. This doesn't fall under freedom of speech, it falls under crying fire in a theater.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

MiuraAnjinDec. 12, 2012 - 08:05AM JST There is an authority that can punish this high school student appropriately. The kid's parents. Confiscate the smart phone and no Internet for 3 months. Done.

I completely agree. Sadly I suspect that the child's parents don't even know their kid has a twitter account, or if they do know then it is unlikely they know their kids' username. My parents allowed me pretty liberal access to the internet on three conditions. Firstly, the door to the computer room was always open and they could walk in at any time (and since the room was also my Dad's study he was often sitting feet away). Secondly, I wasn't allowed to clear the web history. Thirdly, all of my account names and passwords were written in a small book next to the PC.

My parents were pretty cool about not being obvious when they checked, but I'm pretty sure they did from time to time, and one semester when my grades slipped I lost internet access for an agonizing month. If they'd caught me doing something like this I probably would have had been banned for a year at least!!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Frungy, your parents gave you a system that you could understand and the rules were clear.

With this kind of kid, if they suddenly tried to impose that kind of authority there is a good chance he would lose it. Parents in Japan are often afraid of what their kid might do when stressed out. Appeasement all round seems to be the norm.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

make the kid walk around the streets of tokyo wearing a sign saying "I am the idiot that tweeted that fake post" Let's see how funny it feels to him when he does that. As for the parents they also need to be held accountable for this morons actions. Although it doesn't deserve an angry mob goings nuts at the kid of his family something should be done in order to make it known to people that this type of sick joke IS NOT ON!!!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

"Deplorable" is the only word I can find for this!

Something like this should not go unpunished. Confiscating his mobile for a few months or community service in the earthquake area are just two of the options that come to mind.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

That kid is an idiot. I do hope his teacher reads the fable about the Boy who cried Wolf with the class, and lets them write an essay about it.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I like rowiko68's idea of community service in the earthquake area. Still, anyone who did this probably has no heart, and I'm not sure it isn't too late to develop one.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

nandakandamanda: "With this kind of kid, if they suddenly tried to impose that kind of authority there is a good chance he would lose it. Parents in Japan are often afraid of what their kid might do when stressed out."

In other words, they're bad parents. Why is there a good chance the kid would freak out? because of bad parenting and the fact that such actions would be considered an extreme in a kid's life who has clearly been spoiled (if he would react in such a way, in any case). What do you suggest they do? reward him with a Wii-U and say 'yoshi-yoshi!'?

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

I think this dumb kid should be taken in by police -- for a scare if nothing else (allow a parent to join him), and if it can be shown that anyone responded to the tweet and went searching then he should be charged and possibly sent to a reformatory (or the parents charged by proxy). If any rescue services were dispatched over the tweet, that is a major cost, not to mention the potential danger of REAL emergencies being denied due to this kid's idiocy, and he should most certainly be put in a reformatory for a while.

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

I think let his phone provider cancel his service..... and make sure the other providers don't reinstate..... phone providers can refuse to service someone who is a nuisance.....

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Never tweeted, never will.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

He's a high school student and nothing will happen to him. In the eyes of the Japanese Ministry of Justice, he's just a minor/kid. He gets away with it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Kid is a complete and utter moron.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Karma is a bitch kid.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

his school apologized for the reckless tweets.Tezukayama Gakuin Izumigaoka, a private school in Osaka, posted an apology on its website, writing that it had discovered the individual who penned the untrue tweet was a student at the school. "Firstly to everyone in the area hit by the quake, and to everyone everywhere else, we'd like to offer our deepest apology," the website read. The school said it was dealing with this student in a "strict" manner. The school said it was also working with students so nothing like this happens again.

Way to go rich jerkoff private school kid in Osaka. Wonder how "strict" they are going to be, pound his iphone with a hammer would be a good start. For the embarrassment he has caused the school, boot him out and make him go a public school, See how he'd like them apples.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Twitter seems to be just another frivolous toy for children, as reliable as two cans and a string.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )


and make sure he does his commmunity service in some of the hardest hit areas so he realizes why his 'prank' wasn't funny.

I absolutely agree.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

OK, first, this prank is heartless. But not surprising given that Japan still is way behind on the learning curve for Internet fraud, trolling, scams and so on. Unfortunately, this kind of thing is likely to happen even more now that JT and other media have made a circus of it and shown other potential idiots the "how to guide" to disaster internet trolling.


How the hell did anybody figure out who he was on Twitter?

WTF with the person in the screen shot above who tweeted after him basically saying, "call out when help comes." I'd have guess that every single reply would be asking for information on his specific whereabouts.
0 ( +0 / -0 )

some body really needs to teach these kids what is a joke and what is a bullying. Mr.unknown you look trapped under the rabbles of immorality

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think this is ironically funny. Why? This kind of happens all the time...and it got attention only now?? I don't know how many tweets and posts I see from people actually asking for help because they're depressed, suicidal, etc...but nobody pays attention to that.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I'm sure his school mates know his twitter account, so I'm sure they all know who he is. I say let Japan's educational system do what it seems best at: Bullying the kid into suicide.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Idiot stupid kid.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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