Page last updated at 19:08 GMT, Friday, 3 July 2009 20:08 UK

The Buzz: Neda - a case of mistaken identity

 Siobhan Courtney
By Siobhan Courtney

Welcome to The Buzz, our weekly round up of how the stories Newsnight reports are being talked about in the blogosphere, twitterverse and other social media.


First some facts - when Michael Jackson died the web went mad. Google told the BBC that searches for news of the star's death reached such a volume that the topic was rated "volcanic".

Microblogging site Twitter buckled under the enormous number of tweets as users cascaded the news to friends, and conspiracy theories bounced around.

Funky_Tomato on Digital Spy claimed Jackson faked his death over debt worries. Blogger Derek Clontz said "sources in a position to know" say he is in Hungary. And on a grainy picture is, according to the site, the singer alive and well on 27 June. The site states: "We know he is alive because we have seen pictures."

Even Jackson's last will and testament has been published on Smoking Gun

Meanwhile Jackson's fans have been marking the passing of an icon. Many filmed and uploaded themselves paying tribute to him at flash mob tribute dances across the world.

Footage Bob Lord/YouTube

But the Newsnight award for hypocrite of the week goes to celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton who on the day Jackson died posted this message on Twitter:

"We are dubious!!! Jacko pulled a similar stunt when he was getting ready for his HBO special in 95 when he "collapsed" at rehearsal. He was dragging his heels on that just like his upcoming 50 date London residency at the O2 arena, of which he already postponed the first few dates." Perez has since removed the tweet and replaced it with ones calling for the media to give Jackson's family space to mourn.


This week Newsnight discussed the explosion of citizen journalism in Iran with Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post and Anne McElvoy of the Evening Standard.

One issue arising from the scores of video being uploaded and shared on social networking sites all over the world is the authenticity and validity of the material, as CNN's ireport found out last week - the BBC understands that video which got onto the site and was reported as being part of the post-election crisis is four years old.

Neda Soltan (l) who was killed in Tehran and Neda Soltani from Iran
Neda Soltan (left) and Neda Soltani

Neda Agha Solton, has turned into an internet phenomenon after mobile phone footage of her bleeding to death was published and shared all over the world. Neda has also become a trending topic - one of the most repeated words on Twitter - and on Facebook there are many groups dedicated to the woman who has been dubbed the "Angel of Iran".

However, it seems that a photograph said to show the deceased Neda Soltan is in fact believed to be another woman called Neda Soltani, who is alive. Dr Amy L Beam who discovered the error told Newsnight that she contacted Neda Soltani (as mainstream media were reporting Neda Soltani had been killed not Neda Soltan) from Iran via her Facebook account with this message:

"Dear Neda, I am trying to identify the Neda Soltani shot to death in Tehran June 20. I can only do this by process of elimination. Please reply if you get this. Thank you."

An hour later she received a reply saying: "My Dearest Amy, First, I should like to thank you for your compassion, and care. It feels so good to know people around the world care for us! I am not the one you are looking for, but I want you to know I am grateful. Pray for the safety of my people. Best, Neda Soltani"

Dr Beam told Newsnight: "I am now attempting to document in as many places as possible that her photo was mistaken for the dead woman and how that happened."

The Guardian was amongst the news outlets which had the wrong Neda.

This is a prime example of the dangers of media outlets lifting pictures from social networking sites.


The hopes of tennis fans all around the country have been dashed by Andy Murray's exit from Wimbledon.

Andy Murray
Fans will have to wait another year to see a British champion

You may not now be able to bet on his chances of winning the tournament, but Paddy Power is still offering odds on how British he is.

The andymurrayometer says that how British he is depends on how well he is playing.

This afternoon he was listed as 93% British - but then that was before his match.

What does Japanese video game developer Sega-AM3 think? The Buzz found this Virtua Tennis game on YouTube - check out 31 seconds in.

But either way there is clearly plenty of support out there for Murray - just check out this Scottish song in praise of him.


If you missed this little gem it certainly brought back memories of Jeremy Paxman's suggestion that Dizzee Rascal should run for prime minister.

And for those who haven't read it yet - here is Susan Watts blog on whether swine flu parties are a good idea. . I can't say my sausage roll lunch went down too well after reading what would serve at swine flu party


The Buzz: Web gets behind hacker
21 Jul 09 |  Newsnight
The Buzz: An obit for the Observer?
06 Aug 09 |  Newsnight
The Buzz: Are you one of Wogan's Togs?
11 Sep 09 |  Newsnight
The Buzz: Newsnight's Aftershock Special
18 Sep 09 |  Newsnight
The Buzz: BNP row escalates on the web
22 Oct 09 |  Newsnight

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