Meet the internet hoax buster

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On 13 May 2012, friends of Dana Dirr, a 35-year-old surgeon in Saskatchewan, were greeted with a distressing message when they logged into Facebook: “URGENT PRAYERS NEEDED.” A post written by Dirr’s father informed her friends that Dana was fighting for her life after a head-on car accident. Dana had been airlifted to the very same trauma centre where she worked as a surgeon; in fact, she was meant to be on duty that night. “Dana is almost 35 weeks pregnant now,” her father wrote. “So please pray for her and the baby!”

Within hours, hundreds of people had shared the post of Dana’s accident, and hundreds more had left supportive comments. As she fought for her life, her family continued to post updates to Facebook. Minutely detailing their lives online was nothing new for the Dirrs. Dana’s husband, a tattooed ex-punk named JS, had been active in online communities for at least a decade – and had acquired hundreds of online-only friends (and at least one online lover). In 2010, Dana and JS had even become minor internet celebrities when they began sharing the story of their seven-year-old son Eli, who was in the midst of his fourth battle with cancer, with a growing number of followers – first a few hundred, then a few thousand. They called him Warrior Eli… More at The Guardian.

Excellent article.

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