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Student 'Cancels' School Via Fake Tweet

A hoax tweet sent by a student "canceled" school Wednesday before AACPS officially made the call.

A student sent this hoax tweet out about 15 minutes before Anne Arundel schools officially canceled classes Wednesday.
A student sent this hoax tweet out about 15 minutes before Anne Arundel schools officially canceled classes Wednesday.
At 8:01 p.m. Tuesday, a tweet went out via social media platform Twitter declaring Anne Arundel County Public Schools would be closed Wednesday. It was retweeted nearly 200 times. 

The problem was school had not been canceled: The tweet was a fake, sent from the the public account of a student. The tweet looked legit to those who retweeted and favorited it. By altering his Twitter handle to @AACountySchool—just one letter off from the AACPS Twitter handle—and changing his account profile photo and background to mimic the school's account, the student was able to fool many of his followers. 

The student seemed to think the whole incident was funny, tweeting at around 2 a.m. Wednesday, "Today was pretty good. Had no school, got school canceled, and got twitter famous by getting everyone's necks."

AACPS, however, did not find the situation amusing. 

"Certainly we didn't think it was funny," Bob Mosier, AACPS spokesperson said in an interview. "People wait for announcements from us and immediately begin to make plans when they get those announcements."

Last night's hoax tweet caused a lot of "consternation," Mosier said.

"What happens is people see things on social media and they take them as fact as they begin to distribute them," Mosier said.

The student switched his account and twitter handle back to normal shortly after sending the hoax tweet. AACPS officially canceled schools at around 8:15 p.m. Wednesday.

Mosier encouraged parents to follow the actual AACPS Twitter account, @AACountySchools, and Facebook page for social media updates. He also said parents should make sure their child's school has email and cell phone contact numbers, so they can be added to distribution lists for official notifications on school cancellations and delays.

"That's something directly from us to you as a parent," Mosier said.

As for the student, it's not clear yet if there will be repercussions for the practical joke. Mosier said the school system will make a decision about that once classes resume. 

"There is a freedom of speech issue but there is a clear connection to school activities so we will take a look at it," he said.
Mike January 23, 2014 at 12:49 PM
oh come on, the people who fell for this are the same people that fall for the nigerian banking emails. give me a break! let kids be kids. you know, there was a point where hacking was considering goofing around? now, they treat hackers & script-kiddies like terrorists.
Briane Gashinsky January 23, 2014 at 03:07 PM
I personally think the kid should be suspended. What an inconvenience to parents and teachers. It is a shame that people do rely so much on social media for updates and news these days, but once something gets out there it spreads like wild fire. I always double check with the North Penn District Website, but not everyone thinks to do that.
Linda Smith January 23, 2014 at 03:32 PM
Please...Suspended??? I believe this student is one of the brightest bulbs on the tree. Think about January 3, 2014...we know who made that decision and put everyone's children in a hazardous situation. AACPS should hire him to do the delays and cancellations. He was very accurate and did not leave anyone waiting until 6:00am. It should be mandatory that AACPS Board of Education advise the night before by 11:00pm when we are expecting inclement weather. I am sure someone will agree.
John Francis January 24, 2014 at 06:08 AM
Bright kid - good laugh on the school. Hope they got a sense of humor and don't let their pride ruin the day...
Amy Leal January 24, 2014 at 07:54 AM
How did this inconvenience anyone? School ended up being cancelled anyways. I applaud the kid for his thorough and creative thinking.
Hazzard Native January 24, 2014 at 11:52 AM
I personally believe everything I read on social media, without vetting it elsewhere.

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