Post Sandy Reaction: GOP Campaign Managing Troll Outted
Among the trolling tweets that Tripathi wrote: fake tweets that he attributed to the official Goldman Sachs Twitter account, such as “in a city underwater, the vampire squid is king,” and a tweet that he credited to the official Barack Obama Twitter account that advised people to eat their dogs.
He confidently declared, “Tomorrow I will begin to rebuild New York City in my image. After the storm, joined by an army of bodega cats, I will seek out the survivors.”
In short, he was obviously a joker. A clear-eyed look at the entirety of his Twitter feed that night would have exposed him as perhaps not the best source of breaking news: a tweeter, writing anonymously, with a well-established taste for mischief. On any sane day, the ridiculous tweets – usually authored by Tripathi himself – would easily stand out.
But here’s what made the difference: Tripathi’s claim about the New York Stock Exchange was was shared nearly 650 times, during the height of the storm, largely because journalists and others with powerful credibility carried it across their Twitter accounts.
The reach of Tripathi’s single tweet on the NYSE was so powerful that the National Weather Service repeated it, which then allowed it to make its way to the Weather Channel and CNN. With an hour, the national press was reporting this completely made-up statement as fact.
The blowback from there was complete: BuzzFeed thoroughly outed him with his full name, profession, picture, and even his entire history as an internet commenter. The reporter, Jack Stuef, also revealed Tripathi to be the campaign manager for a Republican candidate for Congress. New York Councilman Peter F Vallone Jr threatened to throw him in jail. A Twitter search for “Shashank Tripathi” reveals the kind of invective usually reserved for criminals and murderers, not stupid pranksters.
Tripathi’s outing was inevitable: anyone using an anonymous name to bully or troll others should and will eventually be named. According to his latest tweet, the consequence for Tripathi has been to force his resignation from Wight’s congressional campaign.