Asians behaving badly... hurricane Twitter troll edition! The anonymous Twitter user @comfortably smug, who is responsible for deliberately spreading some of the egregious misinformation about Hurricane Sandy, has been unmasked: The Man Behind @ComfortablySmug, Hurricane Sandy's Worst Twitter Villain.
Turns out, he's some dude named Shashank Tripathi, a hedge fund analyst and campaign manager for Christopher R. Wight, the Republican candidate for the New York's 12th Congressional District. And he apparently has nothing better to do but spread lies about a dire situation. He has since apologized -- anonymously:
@Comfortablysmug's greatest sin was adding more panic, worry, and confusion to what the city was already dealing with as Sandy charged ashore (and there was plenty). He tweeted, falsely, that Con Edison workers were trapped in a facility, that the floor of the New York Stock Exchange had flooded, and that ConEd would shut down power to all of Manhattan. These are the kinds of things that make their way into news reports that then terrify people, who already have plenty of real reasons to be scared. Of course, reporters should check their sources outside Twitter. And that's exactly why @comfortablysmug won't find any allies in the media. As Mashable's Stephanie Haberman tweets, "I was working FAR too late into the night last night verifying truth from rumor to accept @comfortablysmug's apology. Sorry I'm not sorry."What an asshole. What drives someone to do shit like this? Is it the thrill of notoriety and attention? Well, it looks like Mr. Tripathi is now getting more notoriety and attention than he ever desired -- and it ain't anonymous. More here: Sandy’s Biggest Twitter Troll Apologizes, But Won't Find Redemption.
Then there's the disingenuous apology itself: Yes, @comfortablysmug takes "full responsibility for my actions" and "deeply regret[s] any harm or stress they may have caused," but fully half of this apology amounts to further campaigning for the candidate whose employ Tripathi just left: "It is my sincere hope that the voters of New York will see him based on his merits alone, and not my actions of the last 24 hours." That makes the whole "apology" sound a lot more like a political move than a legitimate expression of remorse. "An apology with a 'please consider voting for' attached to it is not an apology," tweeted Reuters's Matthew Keys. Felix Salmon pointed out: "If your apology is so sincere, why didn't you put your name to it?"