A pink-faced Twitter user left several large media outlets pink-faced themselves after her much-derided social media post turned out to be a joke.
On September 12th, Twitter-user @LeleTill (“leah”) posted several pictures of herself with her face covered in pink poster paint, with the caption “See you in court Palmer Paint Products.” The implication was that, although Palmer billed its poster paint as skin-washable, she hadn’t been able to get it off of her skin.
Well, if Leah was looking for attention, she certainly got it. Her original tweet was retweeted almost 150,000 times, and most of them were tweeters who wanted to add a funny caption. While some jokingly called her the female member of Blue Man Group or made similar chromatic puns, many seriously critiqued her decision-making skills. The internet banded together to mock Leah for covering her face in paint without thinking about the potential consequences.
There was just one problem: it was a joke.
In a pinned tweet three days later, Leah clarified that the paint had washed off easily and that she’d enjoyed reading the responses. Apparently, the pink prank had been a joke to amuse her friends on Snapchat.
Twitter-users who had treated the whole thing as a joke were able to laugh along.
But many others were left with egg on their faces, including some serious sources that should have checked their facts more carefully.
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Popular media sites like Time Magazine and The Daily Mail reported on the pink-faced phenom as though it was a serious mistake by a foolish young woman.
Even though both sites published their pieces after Leah had posted her clarification, neither of them mentioned that it had been a joke.
And, as of September 18th, neither of the sites had published a retraction on their incorrect articles. Ironically, while Leah wasn’t really planning on suing Palmer’s Paint, the Daily Mail’s incorrect headline leaves them open for accusations of libel.
Maybe the real joke in this situation was journalistic research.
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