Newspapers Fooled By Bhutto Facebook Prank

Dennis Faas's picture

Facebook has removed two bogus profiles of Benazir Bhutto's son after a British newspaper 'reported' on personal information supposedly revealed on the site. The false details were reported by the Daily Telegraph in Britain, Australia's ABC News, and the Agence France Press.

According to reports, the profiles revealed that Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, expected to succeed his mother as leader of Pakistan's main opposition party, admitted to being hung-over and associating with a lesbian couple, both of which would violate Islamic beliefs. (Source:

However, Facebook has since investigated the profiles and removed them for not being authentic. A spokesperson said the company "examines a range of criteria to determine whether a profile is authentic, including reports from users, profile content, the email associated with an account, length of time the account has been open and network affiliations."

The prankster responsible for one of the profiles appears to be a Philadelphia man who uses the screen name 'Tonay' on a games console discussion board. He claims to have created the profile as a joke and filled it with comments which were actually lifted from television series such as 'The West Wing'. He reproduced several emails from media outlets attempting to contact 'Bhutto' for interviews. (Source:

This isn't the first time journalists have been fooled by interactive sites. Last year, several British newspapers reported on the death of television theme tune composer Ronnie Hazelhurst and included the 'fact' that he had recently penned a well-known pop song. This was untrue and it soon became clear the writers had simply quoted his Wikipedia entry, which had recently been vandalized. (Source:

The Internet certainly makes things easier for journalists who can use communications technology to track down sources and find background information. But reporters who are lazy or gullible enough to treat a social networking profile as a reliable source without questioning seem prime targets for pranksters.

| Tags:
Rate this article: 
No votes yet