I spent the better part of yesterday late afternoon sharing this video on social media and it’s making the rounds this morning (h/t to NowThisNews where I first caught it yesterday). So you may have seen it by now, but I bring it to your attention here as a reminder of something slightly more serious.
A news anchor with television station KTVU in California was duped into reading off the names of several purported pilots from Asiana Flight 214, which crash landed on a San Francisco runway on July 6th, killing three and injuring over 180 passengers.
The “pilot names” were so painfully obviously fake, it’s hard to believe that this segment ever made it to air. I mean, with names like “Captain Sum Ting Wong” and “Ho Lee Fuk” – really?
The worst part about it is that the TV station did at least try to do some legwork and reached out to the National Transportation Safety Board for verification. The NTSB confirmed the names.
KTVU later aired a correction and apology.
So did the NTSB, which blamed the error on a summer intern who “acted outside the scope of his authority.” Of course.
The names were thought offensive by some, when you consider the endless speculation over whether or not culture played any role in the crash. And some argue that it was insensitive to victims of the crash. Others view the stunt as simply being funny.
Folks can have the “I’m offended” versus “C’mon it was funny” side debate, but that’s not why I bring the story to your attention.
This stunt is yet another illustration of just how easy it is to punk the media these days, to bait them into airing or publishing something that is inaccurate. And as I’ve written here before about hacking and hijacking the news and injecting hoaxes into the news cycle, the potential exists for more nefarious people to use the media to do far more malicious things.
And I’m talking about more than just what outlets like MSNBC pass off as “news” on any given day.
While funny to many, offensive to others, I think this stunt is a teachable moment here. Just as white hat hackers break their way into company systems to find companies’ security flaws and embarrass them when the companies don’t take steps to correct it, so soon will be our broken news outlets and government agencies if they don’t get with the program and clean up their acts.