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Update on #ColumbianChemicals twitter hoax

a guest Sep 12th, 2014 620 Never
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  1. An update on the continuing shenanigans that started yesterday, and which are continuing on to today.  Yesterday, I noticed that several odd hashtags began flooding twitter.  I check twitter frequently, and I enjoy keeping an eye on spam account.  The amount of spam that started yesterday was much higher what I usually see.
  2.  
  3. Numerous twitter accounts were tweeting out a hastag of #ColumbianChemicals.  The tweets mentioning #ColumbianChemicals were all implying that there had been an explosion – and a possible leak of dangerous chemicals – at a place called Columbian Chemicals.
  4.  
  5. Columbian Chemicals is a Black Carbon (look it up) plant located in Centerville, Louisiana.  Columbian Chemicals is owned and operated by a corporation based out of India called Birla Carbon.
  6.  
  7. You can read more about Birla Carbon here:
  8.  
  9. http://www.birlacarbon.com/Webpages/about-us-overview.aspx
  10.  
  11. Anyways, a flood of tweets featuring hashtags like #ColumbianChemicals began appearing on twitter.  Some of these tweets linked to YouTube videos purporting to show smoke billowing from a chemical plant or the flash of an explosion.
  12.  
  13. Numerous accounts were posting the same videos on YouTube, and I also noticed several of the videos (including two videos show the flash of the explosion) had what looked to be a timestamp in the actual video.  Whoever posted these videos clearly put some effort into this.
  14.  
  15. I won’t bore you with all the details, but whoever did this also used the services of name.ly to put up fake websites mirroring CNN and Louisiana area media.  Me and several other twitter users alerted name.ly who then suspended the accounts tied to the able.me sites.
  16.  
  17. Here’s a link to a fake CNN site, that featured a fake “Chemical explosion causes panic!” headline until the account was suspended by Name.ly:
  18. http://cnn.able.me
  19.  
  20. There’s a whole lot of weirdness with the entire episode.  In the beginning, dozens of accounts were tweeting out the hashtag of #DeadHorse along with the same 3 or 4 photos of horses dying on the ground.  I thought this was clearly meant to imply a Bhopal style gas leak.
  21.  
  22. These accounts seemed to go out of their way to deliberately mention American politicians and media figures.  Curiously enough, I got caught on a thread mentioning one of the accounts, and the accounts started talking back.  I’m sure the majority of it is automated, but maybe there’s 50 people in a room running this.
  23.  
  24. Why does it matter?
  25.  
  26. Aside from being as annoying as shit, some of the accounts have started implying that the terror group ISIS was behind the attack.
  27.  
  28. In this video, seemingly linked to all the other videos posting on YouTube, you can see that someone posted a video of themselves blabbering to camera as they film what looks to be images of ISIS in Iraq:
  29.  
  30. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2J6RvajSaA
  31.  
  32. The man speaks with an odd accent (sounds Indian to me) and the clip shows a portion of smoke rising from a building, spliced together with shit-all-scary looking Islamic terror guys dressed in black.
  33.  
  34. Curiously enough, the tv news clip of ISIS he’s watching features the same clip of smoke rising from a building that is used in other clips as evidence of the Louisiana clip.
  35.  
  36. There’s probably a hundred or two accounts involved in this.  Seems to be limited to twitter – although there’s maybe a dozen Google+ and YouTube accounts spreading it also.
  37.  
  38. There was one curious report out of Louisiana media.  The television station KATC reported that people in St. Mary Parish were receiving “telephone calls and text messages” related to a supposed “Toxic fume hazard”
  39.  
  40. Here’s a link to their article:
  41.  
  42. http://www.katc.com/news/st-mary-parish-toxic-fume-warning-a-hoax/
  43.  
  44. They’re the only ones to have reported this, and they only offer a single image of a bogus looking text message.  The text message features a website link to a different company in a different state.  It probably would be just as easy to create an image of a fake text message and then send that into KATC, I doubt that someone really had the ability to begin sending bogus messages to the people of St. Mary’s Parish.
  45.  
  46. Oh, and for the record, the company publicly responded to the rumors of this incident:
  47.  
  48. http://www.birlacarbon.com/pdf/Franklin-,-Louisiana-Hoax-9-11-14.pdf
  49.  
  50.  
  51. What’s the motive for this?
  52.  
  53. Who knows?  I’m tempted to say it’s a Russian job interview.  Besides the twitter accounts linked to below, there’s almost an equal number of newly created Russian twitter accounts doing the same thing.  Still, it begs the question: Why do something so obvious as to make it seem as if a Russian person is behind this?
  54.  
  55. Two other more likely motives, in my opinion:
  56.  
  57. 1.      Maybe an environmentally minded person.  Black Carbon is apparently a major cause of climate change.  Still, it doesn’t make a lot of logical sense, and why would someone try to draw attention to something in such an oblique way?
  58. 2.      My other theory is that it’s an Indian business dispute.  The company is based in India, and the majority of their business holdings are there.  The guy in the video sounds like he’s from India.  Birla Carbon isn’t publicly traded, and they don’t look to be preparing an IPO.  Still, this is so weird I think it could be just a business dispute.
  59.  
  60.  
  61. Regardless, this is a STUPID thing to do on the morning of the anniversary of 9/11.  Hopefully the NSA and Homeland Security people will investigate.
  62.  
  63.  
  64. There are lots and lots of accounts involved in this, below you’ll find a partial list of some of the twitter accounts.  Myself and other users have contacted twitter directly – I’ve yet to receive a response.
  65.  
  66.  
  67. Some of the twitter accounts involved:
  68.  
  69. https://twitter.com/ChaseChChcH
  70. https://twitter.com/RobertNHerbe
  71. https://twitter.com/Cody_Bailey0
  72. https://twitter.com/BrianEvansss
  73. https://twitter.com/waynemak56
  74. https://twitter.com/VinHamilton
  75. https://twitter.com/jenniferwein12
  76. https://twitter.com/malloryramos45
  77. https://twitter.com/meganJtonkin
  78. https://twitter.com/markdorison56
  79. https://twitter.com/CarlaEfron1
  80. https://twitter.com/shelbyelam19
  81. https://twitter.com/Cody_Bailey0
  82. https://twitter.com/funnyguy867
  83. https://twitter.com/AnthonyBelllll
  84. https://twitter.com/JordanThomas021
  85. https://twitter.com/lisakameron
  86. https://twitter.com/petersonpetpet
  87. https://twitter.com/hdresuu02e
  88. https://twitter.com/Cody_Bailey0
  89. https://twitter.com/melanie2vega
  90. https://twitter.com/kuwapaxeje
  91. https://twitter.com/TravelGirla
  92. https://twitter.com/qovujolun
  93. https://twitter.com/DaniDanifany
  94. https://twitter.com/MatthewLaborde1
  95. https://twitter.com/bluacoval
  96. https://twitter.com/henry1ewis
  97. https://twitter.com/AnthonyRobiin
  98. https://twitter.com/Michelle_sun16
  99. https://twitter.com/botyvuneno
  100. https://twitter.com/JosephineHaefli
  101. https://twitter.com/DevinDewin
  102. https://twitter.com/akudoxxx
  103. https://twitter.com/moytunale
  104. https://twitter.com/NancyAlleen
  105. https://twitter.com/hdresuu02e
  106. https://twitter.com/rgiypavl
  107. https://twitter.com/apeterbo
  108. https://twitter.com/kevin_ck_Mo
  109. https://twitter.com/zpokodon9
  110. https://twitter.com/amygypudas
  111. https://twitter.com/isontone
  112. https://twitter.com/droxnoft
  113. https://twitter.com/piternojoa
  114. https://twitter.com/erandmore
  115. https://twitter.com/melanie2vega
  116. https://twitter.com/philfree_man
  117. https://twitter.com/shajifi
  118. https://twitter.com/Pauline_Stok
  119. https://twitter.com/newelizabeth23
  120. https://twitter.com/MiaWiilson
  121. https://twitter.com/napowranc
  122. https://twitter.com/MikeMosley777
  123. https://twitter.com/bicoley139
  124. https://twitter.com/ilelaxenpo
  125. https://twitter.com/davidhummer78
  126. https://twitter.com/zeqidutaq
  127. https://twitter.com/iybernyy
  128. https://twitter.com/Owewewen
  129. https://twitter.com/DiandraBell
  130. https://twitter.com/GregSpicy
  131. https://twitter.com/uranjorooa
  132. https://twitter.com/N0RAC0LE
  133. https://twitter.com/HelenSmm
  134. https://twitter.com/nebulenini
  135. https://twitter.com/qikylucah
  136. https://twitter.com/lossoo3rov
  137. https://twitter.com/T0ddDunn
  138. https://twitter.com/ihigujugo
  139. https://twitter.com/ryanryanryanan
  140. https://twitter.com/FrankSinJohnson
  141. https://twitter.com/udexatyqao
  142. https://twitter.com/kominyy76
  143. https://twitter.com/luvenkin
  144. https://twitter.com/coo00q
  145. https://twitter.com/rat376m
  146. https://twitter.com/_SierraRivera_
  147. https://twitter.com/Didididiegooo
  148. https://twitter.com/GraceBrown321
  149. https://twitter.com/akaskidyry
  150. https://twitter.com/pelom6911
  151. https://twitter.com/oqtelira
  152. https://twitter.com/xeqyqyju
  153. https://twitter.com/Lisa_liza12
  154. https://twitter.com/ElizabethPatte
  155. https://twitter.com/ytevunok
  156. https://twitter.com/kimgittleson
  157. https://twitter.com/AveryVeryvery
  158. https://twitter.com/CoCoCodydy
  159. https://twitter.com/Susan_one_
  160. https://twitter.com/Ashley1_Davis
  161. https://twitter.com/wolasfall
  162. https://twitter.com/ooostn
  163. https://twitter.com/yjewykesal
  164. https://twitter.com/yosik906
  165. https://twitter.com/pooqszarky
  166. https://twitter.com/GaleHarrisss
  167. https://twitter.com/nsynnotati
  168. https://twitter.com/millpro5
  169. https://twitter.com/WendyMc_Donald
  170. https://twitter.com/exicafar
  171. https://twitter.com/dmagoiro
  172. https://twitter.com/pbyfruitv
  173. https://twitter.com/Andrea_Day_
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