comScore Japan Quake - Hoax - False Death Reports | Mediaite

Hoaxes Add To Heartache As Web Spreads False Reports Of Quake Deaths

There’s no shortage of real, wrenching heartbreak in Japan, but that hasn’t stopped hoaxers from adding to the misery. For Ashley Russell, that misery came in the form of a fake story he read online listing his daughter among the dead in Japan. “There are some evil people out there,” said Russell, a 48-year-old publisher. “Her employer told me other people had suffered the same hoax as well.”

Russell’s daughter, Alice Byron, is alive and well. But her name ended up on a missing persons website set up to track Japan’s tsunami victims. The posting “confirmed” Byron among the dead in a coastal town where the Australian Byron had been teaching English. Efforts to use crowdsourcing to collect information about survivors and the dead can lead to mistakes, but Byron’s convinced the report about her–complete with bogus information listing a hospital where her body was located and a doctor who’d declared her dead, was intentional:

“These people are looking for a reaction,” said Byron, who was tracked down by The Associated Press at Ofunato City Hall in stricken northeast Iwate prefecture on Tuesday. “There are people on the Internet who want to make light of a bad situation and make edgy jokes. … It doesn’t take long for the Internet hate machine to roll into action.”

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