It was the kind of news to make Atlantans’ blood run cold — for a second at least.
“BREAKING: EBOLA OUTBREAK IN ATLANTA!” screamed the first line from Yahoo! News’ Twitter feed. “Estimated 145 people infected so far since Doctors carrying the disease were flown in from Africa.”
The tweet went out at 4:41 p.m. Sunday and disappeared about 20 minutes later, but not before it was retweeted hundreds of times. Few of those commenting on the tweet appeared to believe it, chalking it up to a more common ailment — the dreaded Twitter hack.
“WTF,” one commenter replied. “Change your password.”
The tweet played on fears related to two Americans infected with Ebola who are in treatment at Emory University Hospital. Public health officials have insisted the patients pose no risk to the public and have gone to some lengths to explain how the disease is transmitted.
That could be why Emory Healthcare spokesman Vincent Dollard greeted the news of the errant tweet with a sigh.
“Wow,” he said.
Dollard confirmed that the disease remained firmly contained and that the public should have no reason to be concerned about the treatment of the two patients.
Officials with Yahoo! in Santa Monica, Calif., did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but the company’s news account did address “an unauthorized tweet with misinformation on Ebola” and encouraged followers to “disregard that tweet.”
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.