20 Minutes: Life of a Twitter Rumor

Just after noon today, false rumors that CNN had suspended Pierce Morgan originated from a fake account meant to parody Dan Wootton, former show biz editor for News of the World. The false tweet went out at 12:14 EST. @jonsnowC4 accidentally legitimized it, and it spread from there. The rumor lasted until 12:34 when @piersmorgan squashed it himself.


  1. Rumor starts off from the very fake @danwooden, not to be confused with the very real @danwootton
  2. @jonsnowc4, an anchor for Channel 4 News in London, confuses his t's with a "d", misses @danwooden's very fake bio, and spreads the rumor. You can see a screen grab of his original tweet below. Note that he doesn't cite his source, so no one who sees his tweet knows that not only is he going off of a second hand source, but also a totally fake source.


  3. @archiebland, Foreign Editor at The Independent picks up the rumor trail and immediately notices that it originated from a fake account
  4. But at this point, it's too late...
  5. My colleague Anthony De Rosa is just too far removed from the original fake tweet to know it's not true. 

  6. @brianstelter starts putting the brakes on.
  7. @adrianchen from Gawker starts investigating where the fake account came from.
  8. And finally the man himself refutes the rumor.