Tubesign: goes viral (again), memes and fake news

Tubesign – was a fun service information sign maker that that I made in 2013 and in 2015 TfL demanded me delete it. It has reappeared in the news, with a sign created by a Windsor doctor (around my age) being read out on the news, a few TV programmes and in parliament, and lots of media discussion about it – with the bias towards the popular “fake news” narrative.

CC-BY-SA Tubesign.uk @tube_sign and John Moore

The code was open source and on github and some others (@tube_sign on twitter) picked up a copy and hosted their own at tubesign.uk. The main difference with my original site is that tubesign.uk do not host any images and the image does not contain the London Underground roundel.  Needless to say, tubesign.uk, their twitter @tube_sign and the image that was shared has nothing to do with me, but as Geppetto is rewarded by seeing his wooden creation become an entity on its own right so am I happy to see it’s new independent life.

Here’s a few links and copies of the main stories below. I found it amusing to note that there were about half a dozen genuine London underground signs made by employees but this one was the one that really went viral. I think that says much about working in the tube than anything.   There was discussion about whether it mattered it was “fake” if the message was agreeable. Part of the reason why it went viral is that it was slightly edgy – one is impressed that a lowly employee got around their manager to write such a thing – the actual signs are more dry and less edgy. Many responses to the initial sharing quickly said it was “fake” and that it was made by an online sign maker, but it didn’t stop it going viral. Or at least the story about it was the thing that went viral. The whole thing gave me a much needed chuckle a few days after watching such a horrific event hit London. I fully expect that people will forget about it for a year and it will go viral again.

Read the articles for yourself. The doctor thought everyone knew it was not real:

“In fact, he believed the tube sign generator he used was so widely known that no one would believe it was real.

Parliament –

BBC Question Time –

Guardian: Fake Tube Sign Read Out on BBC and in Commons after Westminster Attack
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/mar/23/fake-tube-sign-read-out-bbc-westminster-attack

YouGov poll https://yougov.co.uk/opi/surveys/results#/survey/bf4b06c0-1076-11e7-a8f4-c6af4c483187/question/3ad268b0-1077-11e7-b82a-4e47a0d22bac/toplines

Guardian creator interview “Creator of that viral tube sign: ‘I didn’t think people would think it was real’ https://www.theguardian.com/technology/shortcuts/2017/mar/28/creator-of-that-viral-tube-sign-i-didnt-think-people-would-think-it-was-real#img-1

New Statesman – The man who created the fake Tube sign explains why he did it http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/media/2017/03/man-who-created-fake-tube-sign-explains-why-he-did-it

The Verge: Is sharing fake news okay if it feels right? http://www.theverge.com/tldr/2017/3/23/15034018/london-terror-attack-tube-sign-fake-news

Nieman Lab: Is it still fake news if it makes you feel good? (Yes, yes it is): Updates from the fake news world http://www.niemanlab.org/2017/03/is-it-still-fake-news-if-it-makes-you-feel-good-yes-yes-it-is-updates-from-the-fake-news-world/

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