A tweet about a missing three-year-old boy turned out to be fake news, created as part of a marketing stunt for a school project.
Twitter user @FindHangHang tweeted a plea for help on Monday noon, asking people to help look out for a young Malaysian boy who had gone missing. The internet then proved that they are a helpful and kind crowd, and in just eight hours this message was retweeted nearly 7,000 times.
“Pls help me find my son. He’s 3years old, missing since ytd. He was wearing a blue shirt when he went missing plz rt” – @FindHangHang
This tweet was soon followed by another message.
“Have printed out flyers to distribute and I got a group of students to help me out please help me find my son.” – @FindHangHang
The man behind @FindHangHang, believed to be named Hak Long, told the Twitter universe that Hang Hang was last seen in his car.
“He was last since in my car. He was sleeping so I left him there while I went to buy us dinner” – @FindHangHang
However, ‘Hak Long’ turned out to be a fake persona, as he later posted a message saying that the tweets were just for a short movie made for a school project.
“This account is for a school project. We did not forsee our tweet to create this much attention. Please accept our most sincere apology!” – @FindHangHang
According to the apology message, the main purpose of the tweets was to promote their short film in the “most realistic and eye catching way” as possible. Well, in that aspect it definitely succeeded, as this publicity stunt had successfully grabbed the public’s attention. Some users actually acted to help get Hang Hang back home safely.
After the truth behind this “missing Hang Hang” gimmick tweet was revealed, some people were not happy about it.
“@FindHangHang i’m just gonna tell you that people are gonna distrustful about such missing people campaign in the future,” @farronetic
“It’s a complete fallacy and injustice to children who have actually gone missing before, and parents’ predicament,” @jayjaydenis
“not funny, pls post the company behind it, misusing people’s kindness.” @lftan98
What do you think? Did @FindHangHang cross a line? Or is using social media as a platform for marketing schemes and gimmicks justified by its successful response?