Media duped by satirical call for destruction of pyramids

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When Egypt elected Mohamed Morsi on June 25, a Twitter user purporting to be an Islamic cleric from Bahrain called for the destruction of the pyramids in Egypt.

Weeks later, several news outlets picked up the story as truth and connected it to instances of historical landmark destruction, which fueled fears about Morsi’s Islamist party sending Egypt on the path to radicalization.

But the tweet was from a satirical account, and was completely false. To those unaware of the intricacies of Middle Eastern politics and history, there was no way to judge the legitimacy of a tweet in Arabic.

Egyptians were more keen on picking up the satire, and pointed out the Western media’s trend in believing other hoaxes.

The Daily News Egypt News reported “several news agencies ran stories about a proposed bill in the Egyptian parliament, which would have allowed men to have sex with their deceased spouse up to six hours after they passed away. The reports were also discovered to be unfounded.”

The Egyptians are not unfamiliar with using social media to outsmart traditional media and government entities.

During the 2011 revolution, an Egyptian blogger posted a video to YouTube urging people to protest in Tahrir Square.

In order to evade Hosni Mubarak’s security forces, the time announced in the video was hours after the actual protest began, which was secretly announced through word of mouth and text messaging.

The government had temporarily shut down mobile phone service, Twitter and eventually the entire Internet to quell the protests that eventually ousted Mubarak.