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Twitter Cons Concerned Citizens Over Haiti

Posted by Jane Akre
Friday, January 15, 2010 11:43 AM EST
Category: On The Road
Tags: Consumer Fraud, Internet Fraud, Haiti, Identity Theft, Twitter, Social Media

Twitter, the social media site, is being used to push hoaxes over Haiti relief.


IMAGE SOURCE: Help Haiti Now- logo from Chicago Now Web site

Consumer Watch

Thursday morning Twitter was aflutter with news that several airlines would take medical personnel to Haiti free of charge to help with earthquake relief.

But American Airlines and JetBlue say those rumors are false.

“We don’t know who is responsible, but it’s a very low thing to do,” says airlines spokesman Tim Smith in an e-mail to CNN.

This young technology used to build bonds and exchange short bursts of information, has a the potential to spread rumors and falsehoods, as seen during this disaster. Twitter circulated another rumor that UPS would be willing to ship any package under 50 lbs. to Haiti. UPS has had to debunk that myth.

On its Web site a spokeswoman for UPS says because of the destruction of Haiti’s roads, even its trucks found find them impassable. The company says it’s donated 1 million to disaster relief.

Wednesday, American Airlines and American Eagle sent three planes of water, food and other needed goods into Port-au-Prince, the airlines said in a news release. And three more relief flights are planned from Puerto Rico to Haiti, with all time being donated.

"We've incentivized our 62 million AAdvantage members to give cash to Red Cross and receive bonus miles from us," Smith added. "We cannot fly any passengers to Haiti at this time and our efforts on the humanitarian front are as described above."

JetBlue is flying relief workers from agency such as the American Red Cross to Santo Domingo and the Dominican Republic, but not civilians.

Posted one user on Twitter about 10:30 a.m. ET: "American Airline and Jet Blue Are NOT Flying doctors and nurses into Haiti for free. Do NOT call them."

The Posts

Here are the false posts from About.com:

A reader asks if this Facebook posting is true:

" UPS is shipping anything under 50lbs for free to Haiti. You can send food, clothes or shoes... and American Airlines is taking doctors and nurses to Haiti for free. Please call 212-697-9767. Spread the word... Red Cross needs Creole speaking volunteers for a 24hr phone bank... Call Mr. Wilfrid @ 303-776-6900 ASAP... Please repost."

The same rumors are circulating in briefer form on Twitter:

"UPS IS SHIPPING TO HAITI FOR FREE TOday!! IT HAS TO BE UNDER 50 lbs!! If you have ANYTHING to give, round up your stuff ...

"AMERICAN AIRLINES is taking doctors and nurses to Haiti for free. Please call 212 697-9767. Spread the word. Thanks!"

FBI Warning

The FBI warns Internet users who receive requests for charitable donations on behalf of earthquake victims to "apply a critical eye and do their due diligence" before responding. "Past tragedies and natural disasters have prompted individuals with criminal intent to solicit contributions purportedly for a charitable organization and/or a good cause."

Providing personal information in order to donate can make you a victim of identity fraud, warns the FBI adding "Anyone who has received an e-mail referencing the above information or anyone who may have been a victim of this or a similar incident should notify the IC3 via www.ic3.gov."

IB News will bring you updates on hoaxes and feel free to add any to this list. #


Posted by Jane Akre
Friday, January 15, 2010 12:10 PM EST

Charity Navigator is America's largest charity evaluator. Please visit them:


Anonymous User
Posted by Dave Davies
Sunday, January 17, 2010 1:04 AM EST

what has happened to airdrops of food and water packages to survivors, surely that would be much more effective than funnelling all the relief supplies through the airports and then on over damaged and insecure roads.

Comments for this article are closed.

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