Cuba blames 'necrophiliacs' and Twitter for Castro death rumours
Published 05/01/2012 | 07:44
THE Cuban state has accused Twitter of helping to spread rumours that Fidel Castro had died and said that anti-regime expatriates in Florida were "necrophiliac counter-revolutionaries" for perpetuating the story.
An article on the state-run Cubadebate website accused Twitter of allowing an account holder with the sign-on "Naroh" to start the rumour on Monday from an Italian server.
It said Twitter then helped spread the disinformation by allowing the hash tag "fidelcastro" to become a trending topic. It briefly became the fourth most popular in the world as it drew many more people to the subject.
The site also accused Twitter of censoring subjects in the past that were in favor of the Cuban government.
A Twitter spokesperson, Jodi Olson, said the company had no comment on the specifics of Cuba's complaint, but added "as you know, we don't mediate content."
"Naroh," was one of many users to retweet messages about Castro's death. He and others were posting other, mostly sarcastic, messages about the rumor at the same time.
The account's owner lists his name as "Naroh - David Fdez," and his biography identifies him as a 20-year-old living "between Asturias and Madrid" in Spain.
Reached via Twitter on Wednesday, the owner of the account reacted with shock and amusement. "Obviously I didn't start anything," he tweeted back to an AP reporter. Asked which of his tweets may have gotten Havana's attention, he said he had no idea, that his posts were jokes and that the topic was already trending when he got involved.
He then tweeted to his followers, in Spanish: "Cuba is blaming me for killing Fidel Castro on Twitter. Can I now consider myself a Twit-star?"
Cubadebate also blamed anti-Castro expatriates anxious to see Castro's demise for gleefully furthering the rumour, saying "necrophiliac counterrevolutionaries, aided by some media, immediately started to party."
Castro, 85, turned power over to his brother Raul in 2006 during an illness that nearly killed him. He is officially retired, though he occasionally publishes opinion columns.
In recent months, Castro has alluded to the limits of age, but has also taken pride in his longevity. Cuba boasts that along with besting the actuarial tables, the former Cuban leader has survived hundreds of assassination attempts at the hands of his enemies in the United States.