L.A. Times Tweets, then Deletes, Fake Earthquake Report

David Moir / Reuters
David Moir / Reuters

The Los Angeles Times tweeted a warning Wednesday evening that a massive 6.8-magnitude earthquake had struck the region at Isla Vista, California.

A short time later, it retracted and deleted the tweet, explaining that an automated program, or “bot,” had tweeted out the details of an earthquake that had indeed struck Isla Vista — in 1925.

Small earthquakes are almost routine in the Los Angeles area, though many people do not notice them. A typical small earthquake is felt in the brief rattling of windows. Moderate-sized earthquakes of magnitude 4 or higher occur occasionally, and may knock frames from walls and cause parked cars to shake.

A 6.8 magnitude earthquake, however, would be a rare and major event. The 1989 San Francisco earthquake, which killed dozens of people, flattened highways and destroyed neighborhoods, was a 6.9 magnitude quake.

The Times blamed a faulty report from the U.S. Geological Survey:

A subsequent Times article explained that a “Caltech staffer” had been responsible for the error: “The error happened when someone tried to correct the exact location of the Prohibition-era Santa Barbara earthquake, which happened 92 years ago.”

The USGS owned up to the error:

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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