Formspring prank story plagues Twitter

Kim LaCapria

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."

"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."

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

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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