Posted in: Technology

Formspring prank story plagues Twitter

formspring twitter hoax

One of the top trending topics on Twitter right now is Formspring, apparently due to a fake news story circulating on the microblogging service.

Formspring.me, a social media platform designed for users to ask and answer anonymous questions, is being maligned in tweets due to a faked AP story dated “two days ago” that claims the site’s operators plan on releasing confidential data about users as a massive April Fool’s day prank:

Over 2 million people have used the site to communicate anonymously with other users since its creation in 2009.

“We allow users to sign up for an account and ask questions anonymously, but we still store their data next to the question. For legal purposes,” said Baxter, in a January interview.

However, it was revealed, in a leaked personal email from Baxter to Anne Gralley, a friend, that the data was being stored for another reason.

“In less than a month, ” (CEO Mark) Baxter wrote, “we’ll be adding the name, email, and facebook account of each user next to all of their anonymous posts.”

Although the piece is alarming at first, a few things should be noted about the alleged news story. There is no record of it on the Associated Press’ main site. Stories without a set date (last week, two days ago) raise a red flag, and the style does not fit in with AP guidelines. (Facebook isn’t capitalized. “Creation of said website” is not typical AP phrasing. “Misleading the public” is not something a news story would cite as a criminal charge.)

Most tellingly, though, the story has not been picked up by any major news outlets or tech sites- something this inflammatory would certainly be a big story. All the links being posted on Twitter lead back to a single source- it appears to be the genesis for this particular rumor.

If you are a Formspring user, I wouldn’t advise canceling your account because of this- there is no information right now that indicates any part of this story is based on fact. Formspring.me has not responded to requests for comment.

Update: In a comment on a Venture Beat post, the president of Formspring calls the story “entirely fictitious”:

Hi Cody, thanks for the post.

formspring.me was a victim of a cyber fraud launched today. This attack, created to look like an Associated Press news release, is entirely fictitious.

All formspring.me users should know that our promise remains, We are committed to protecting their privacy and online experience as agreed in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, and have no intention of revealing the identities of anonymous users on the site.

Best,

John Wechsler
President
formspring.me

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Comments

24 Responses to “Formspring prank story plagues Twitter”

  1. Space Lizard

    Also, Formspring’s CEO is named Ade Olonoh from what I can see.

  2. Squeak

    They haven’t responded because they’ve all been arrested.

  3. Rob

    If the company is run in the San Fernando Valley it’s definitely a scam. Nothing good ever comes from the Unhappiest Place On Earth – The Valley

  4. Anonymous

    If you look, formspring is based in the Netherlands, not LA.
    FAKE.

  5. John Wechsler

    formspring.me was a victim of a cyber fraud launched today. This attack, created to look like an Associated Press news release, is entirely fictitious.

    All formspring.me users should know that our promise remains, We are committed to protecting their privacy and online experience as agreed in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, and have no intention of revealing the identities of anonymous users on the site.

    Best,

    John Wechsler
    President
    formspring.me

  6. Jacob

    If the hoaxers had used proper AP style, they would know that it’s “L.A.” and not “LA.” Fail.

  7. Dan S.

    Am I the only one who noticed the April 1st date? Seriously?

  8. Brad

    They wouldn’t find anything but your IP anyways for the people without accounts.

  9. Anonymous

    lmaoo i know this is probably a prank! but i hope they don’t revel it or else it wouldn’t be fun at all!

  10. (:

    It won’t really be revealed… It’s just a prank pulled by some bored randoms. They aren’t allowed to do it – it’s against the law which is why they’ve been arrested on suspicion that they may do it.
    They will not be revealing any anonymous data. There are clues all over the place in that fake article. Don’t worry about it.

  11. Anonymous

    hopefully they dont do it. there will be mass suicides,especally where i live ):