Fun with Lincoln
Turns out he didn't invent Facebook.
So, a guy from Milwaukee fooled a bunch of people into thinking that Abraham Lincoln invented Facebook, or something like it, back during Abraham-Lincoln times.
Nate St. Pierre's Tuesday post to his blog (namely, "Nate St. Pierre") has been a hot read for a couple of days. One of those readers was an Atlantic staff writer, the assiduous Megan Garber, who did a thorough fact check of the whole claim yesterday. But Mr. St. Pierre came clean today and breaks down his whole conceptual process, for those who are interested.
His original post had a few red flags. In it, the narrative has him stumbling upon a "circus graveyard" in Delavan, Wis., a link between P.T. Barnum and Lincoln and a yellowing copy of the Springfield, Ill., "Gazette" all about the future president, what's goin' on, his cats and stuff like that.
But, turns out, this was not a proto-Facebook in ink form. Some early commenters seemed to get the joke (one said it would have been funnier if he'd created "Abraham LinkedIn") but enough folks took St. Pierre seriously to elevate his stunt to a hoax. Part of his motivation, he says, was to stir up interest in his web and philanthropy consultancy, which he launched with a biz partner earlier this week.
For more on St. Pierre, see this 2010 Jim Stingl column from the Journal Sentinel.
UPDATE: Uh oh, Poynter's Craig Silverman says St. Pierre's original post was "the perfect shareable story."