Undergrads at the University of Virginia learned the power of social media on Monday, when the student newspaper tweeted a word of mouth rumor that dorms were being searched for alcohol . The aftermath of the hoax involved dumpsters full of beer cans and liquor bottles, a plethora of official statements, and the Dean of Students engaged in an argument on Twitter about Constitutional interpretation. The story was picked up by the Washington Post that afternoon and for a time was featured as the “most read online” article.
In addition to being totally hilarious, this is a great example of the raw potential contained in a single tweet. While this is not the way that UVA would like to get its publicity, the University still made it to the online front page of the Washington Post all due to a tweet. Had this been a purely offline scenario, there is no way the story would have made it as far as it did. Another reason it got coverage is because it was handled in a humorous manner. It made everyone chuckle, particularly the pictures and so it got retweeted. It was also in the middle of the work day so many people were on Twitter looking for a bit of distraction. Hmmmm…. what does this remind us of? Yep- The Great Super Bowl Blackout and the now legendary “Oreo Tweet” or as Slate calls it, “The Half-Decent Oreo Tweet that Dazzled a Nation” Right place, right time. That’s the new game in town.
Now for your viewing pleasure please enjoy a bit of the #UVAdormsearch hysteria!