'ComfortablySmug' apologizes for misleading tweets, resigns from GOP campaign

@ComfortablySmug | BuzzFeed | GigaOM

Shashank Tripathi has apologized for false tweets he sent during Hurricane Sandy, one of which may have led to CNN and the Weather Channel reporting the New York Stock Exchange was under three feet of water.

"I made a series of irresponsible and inaccurate tweets," Tripathi wrote in a tweeted apology.

While some would use the anonymity and instant feedback of social media as an excuse, I take full responsibility for my actions. I deeply regret any distress or harm they may have caused.

Jack Stuef unmasked Tripathi on BuzzFeed Tuesday, revealing he was the campaign manager for Christopher R. Wight, a Republican candidate for congress.

Tripathi has resigned from Wight's campaign, he said in his apology, which did not use his real name. New York City Councilman Peter Vallone told BuzzFeed's Andrew Kaczynski he's asked the Manhattan district attorney's office to look into charging Tripathi with...something.

Vallone told BuzzFeed that "the Manhattan DA is taking this very seriously." But he conceded that "it's a very difficult case to make."

Writing in GigaOM, Jeff John Roberts interviews a veteran journalist who says Vallone is correct on that point:

“Lies are constitutionally protected except in very rare exceptions. Someone recklessly tweeting is beyond the reach of the law except in rare exceptions,” said Ken Paulson, a lawyer and former USA Today editor at the First Amendment Center, in a phone interview.

But the government does prosecute false rumors that affect the stock market, Roberts notes (one example). Roberts says "future emergencies may test" his instinct "to leave Twitter alone."

Related: BuzzFeed reveals person behind storm misinformation Twitter account

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at TBD.com and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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