NYT columnist’s suspicious ‘Russian’ package sparks online paranoia
Blow, who is a vocal critic of Donald Trump and has been outspoken on Russia’s alleged interference in the US election, tweeted that he was hesitant to open a box that had arrived at his home as he wasn’t sure from the handwriting if the package had originated in Russia or Poland.
True story: Box just arrived at home. Couldn't tell frm handwriting if origination country was Polska (Poland) or Russia. Hesitated to open…— Charles M. Blow (@CharlesMBlow) January 13, 2017
The tweet sparked a flurry of replies, some apparently genuinely concerned for Blow’s safety.
@CharlesMBlow I wouldn't open. I'd call law enforcement. Please be safe! We need you!— Lisa Barker (@LisaBFitness) January 13, 2017
@CharlesMBlow This new world is as dangerous as it is bizarre. Nothing can be assumed or taken for granted any longer.Especially our safety.— Vali (@vali2102) January 13, 2017
@CharlesMBlow call the police and get it checked , don't take nothing for granted crazy times we live in now— Deron T. Vaughter (@elk1898) January 13, 2017
Others, however quickly trolled Blow for his “fearmongering”.
Blow has written profusely on Trump’s unsuitability for president, blasting the Republican a ‘bigot’ during the election race, and seems convinced of the president-elect’s alleged ‘close relationship’ with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The journalist wrote in his New York Times column on January 9: “Donald Trump is as much Russia’s appointment as our elected executive. The legacy of his political ascendance will be written in Cyrillic and affixed with an asterisk.”
However, based on Blow’s tweet, other Twitter users questioned the writer’s language capabilities and his expertise on Russia if he could not even identify Cyrillic script.
@CharlesMBlow You do realise Russia and Poland use different alphabets, right?— dx 386 ♂🇷🇺⚛ (@386dx) January 13, 2017
@CharlesMBlow All this hatred of Russia and you don't even know what Cyrillic writing looks like.— US Stand with Russia (@USstandwRussia) January 13, 2017
Blow later reassured his followers that the ‘crisis’ had been averted – it was simply a forgotten package he had ordered on eBay some time ago. Phew!
Haha. All is well. It was something I ordered on Evay months ago. https://t.co/oBMhwMTsVa— Charles M. Blow (@CharlesMBlow) January 13, 2017
@CharlesMBlow You said Evay. Is that the Russian site for EBay? No wonder it took so long. Any hush hush videos you want to share? 😊— Erol Vekil (@ErolVekil) January 13, 2017
Blow didn’t reveal whether he alerted authorities to the ‘suspicious’ delivery or whether he bravely risked his life to open the box. He also chose not to divulge its mysterious contents.
@CharlesMBlow Now after scaring us all, you MUST tell us what you had ordered!— Geez!! (@MessyDeskPapers) January 13, 2017
His turnaround tweet didn’t quite garner the attention of the initial one and sparked accusations of fostering ‘fake news’.
@CharlesMBlow typical fake news! Getting everyone worked up for absolutely nothing! Thanks for proving our point!— ⚜️Beripa⚜️ (@beripsnicotti) January 13, 2017
The incident comes hot on the heels of Thursday’s Twitter conspiracy craze over RT’s interruption of a C-SPAN live stream.
An internal routing issue – confirmed by C-SPAN – sparked paranoia that the broadcast was part of Russian cyber warfare.