Things went horribly wrong between TV network news and Twitter this weekend, although the blame doesn’t lie with CBS, NBC or Twitter. A content affiliate of wrongly reported the death of Steve Jobs, and NBC News had its Twitter account hacked and used to spread fake terrorist attack information.

CBS Interactive’s problem was caused by What’s Trending, a web series independently produced by Disrupt Group and presented by that company’s co-founder Shira Lazar. had been hosting the web series since May, a deal that ended abruptly late Friday after @WhatsTrending sent out a tweet that read: “Reports say that Steve Jobs has passed away. Stay tuned for more updates.”

The message instantly began spreading throughout the Twittersphere, with many referring to the tweet as coming from a Twitter account associated with CBS and therefore having credibility. It is not known exactly which Disrupt Group started the unfounded rumor. Within a few minutes, the message was deleted and Lazar retracted the statement by sending a Tweet that quite a few people felt was inappropriately flippant: “Apologies — reports of Steve Job’s death completely unconfirmed. Live on.”

Shiraz later issued an apology for the previous apology, but by that time network executives informed CBS Interactive to remove from all material related to Lazar and What’s Trending, as reported by the Hollywood Reporter, and the relationship has now been terminated.

NBC’s problem was caused intentionally when one or more people calling themselves the Script Kiddies, the same persona that hacked the Fox News Twitter account earlier this year, hacked into the NBC News Twitter account @NBCNews and pretended there had been a terrorist attack. The first tweet read [both sic]: “Breaking News! Ground Zero has just been attacked. Flight 5736 has crashed into the site, suspected hijacking. more as the story develops.” A subsequent one read: “This is not a joke, Ground Zero has just been attacked. We’re attempting to get reporters on the scene.”

NBC News, with cooperation from Twitter, swiftly removed the offensive tweets, blocked the account, notified the FBI cyber crimes unit, and issued a statement explaining the ugly incident.  NBC News anchor Brian Williams reiterated the explanation on that evening’s Nightly News and apologized for the “scare that could have been caused by such a reckless and irresponsible act.”

Related Links:

New York Times’ Media Decoder blog –


Business Insider –

The Hollywood Reporter –


  1. This is why real news organizations shouldn’t let social media sources have any influence on their reporting. It leads to bad information. It is especially flawed reasoning to have this entire Disrupt Group segment on a news site. Very inappropriate, and this sort of things needs to stop, or we will continue to see these sorts of problems.