PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A missing boy "advertisement" on Twitter received the ire of netizens who had retweeted the post over 6,000 times hoping that the three-year-old could be located.
It turned out that the post was part of a "marketing campaign" for a short movie, the twitterer "Hak Long" said after being contacted by The Star Online.
The post @FindHangHang was widely accessed after it was first put up at about noon Monday with a message: Pls help me find my son. He's 3years old, missing since ytd. He was wearing a blue shirt when he went missing plz rt.
By 8pm it received some 6,700 retweets.
An accompanying tweet said: Have printed out flyers to distribute and I got a group of students to help me out please help me find my son.
Yet another tweet with hashtags #HaveYouSeenHangHang #HYSHH said the boy was "last seen in Woodlands."
It was only at about 8.30pm that the handler issued an apology saying: This account is for a school project. We did not forsee our tweet to create this much attention. Please accept our most sincere apology!
Hak Long also posted: "Hi everyone, As the situation has gotten really out of hand, we feel we owe everyone an explanation and a sincere apology. This account was created for a school project whereby we were to select a film for screening and we chose "Pizza" as our film, a true story adaptation of a young boy who went missing and was found to be brutally killed many years ago.
"We deeply apologise for causing this uproar of anger amongst everyone who was truly concerned with helping to find Hang Hang. Our main intention was to merely promote our film in the most realistic and eye catching way possible, however realising we failed to emphasise that it was a film screening."
But the damage had been done.
Here are some reactions from netizens:
"@FindHangHang i'm just gonna tell you that people are gonna distrustful about such missing people campaign in the future," @farronetic said.
"It's a complete fallacy and injustice to children who have actually gone missing before, and parents' predicament," said @jayjaydenis.
@lftan98 said: "not funny, pls post the company behind it, misusing people's kindness."
@Wamirul: "insensitive, tasteless and no point telling them all this because they're enjoying social media fellatio."
@mymiszelle: "A marketing gimmick by @FindHangHang? Opportunistic capitalists wtout qualms of #socialmedia abuse. Not a laughing matter."