The day after The Pitt News exposed a fake Sen. Barack Obama rally at the Petersen Events Center, the Facebook event and its creator's Facebook account vanished.
University of Pittsburgh student Dan Gore reported to Facebook that someone created an account mimicking his, which was used to lead people to believe that he was hosting the phony rally.
To this day, Gore does not know who created the account.
Friends informed him about the event's existence and Gore thought that it was a personal prank. The imposter changed the account's profile picture three times to match Gore's current profile picture.
"At first I thought it was a joke, but when he changed the profile picture again, I didn't think it was funny. It's a misrepresentation of my name," he said. "This person misled an entire university, which I think is unacceptable."
The imposter's profile was detectable because he was not a member of the same networks as Gore. Gore is a member of the Supporters for Obama network and the University of Pittsburgh network, while the phony profile was only a member of the Pittsburgh, Pa. network.
To compliment the Facebook group, fliers were posted around campus advertising a rally featuring Obama on the evening of March 28 at the Petersen Events Center. The flier also stated that 5,000 tickets would be available to students at the William Pitt Union ticket office on March 3.
Gore believes that the fliers were relatively convincing since they had Obama's picture, the time and place, and the message to "stand for change."
However, Gore noticed some flaws in the flier's design.
"The one thing I feel that makes it illegitimate was that it was just black and white, like it was printed from a computer lab. If it was a real campaign flier, it'd be colorful and eye-catching. Obama has a lot of money," he said.
Pitt student employee Rachel Perlin worked at the William Pitt Union ticket office between 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. on March 3. In that hour she said she encountered eight or nine students who asked for Obama rally tickets.
During Perlin's later shift, fewer people approached the ticket window seeking Obama tickets as word spread that the rally was a hoax.
"It was hurtful because there were people dying to see him," Perlin said.
Gore realized a telling detail that suggested the imposter's carelessness: the date.
"March 28 is a Friday. There are no college political rallies on Friday nights. It shows that he's not politically aware," Gore said.
The event was advertised to last between 6 and 8 p.m.
Gore believes that he would be a likely target for such a hoax because of his political reputation at Pitt. He helped to found Supporters for Obama at Pitt.
Despite his connections, Gore does not know who misappropriated his Facebook identity and orchestrated the phony rally.
"I could care less. People can laugh about it in their glorified immaturity. I'm going to move on. It's not worth the time to pursue who did it. I have my thoughts but it's not something that I'm going to discover," he said.
Gore believes that the account and event listing were removed forcibly by Facebook and not the imposter because of all the time and effort the charlatan put into the scheme.
Obama has not yet announced plans to visit Pitt.
© 2008 The Pitt News via U-WIRE