Friday afternoon, the New York Times published a damning report about Florida State University football players receiving favorable treatment from local Tallahassee police. A hit-and-run was downgraded to a moving violation. But for some time afterward, you couldn’t read about it on Twitter–because any link to the story instead took readers to this:
What happened? Many Twitter users claimed that FSU fans had en masse flagged the story as spam, triggering the Twitter blockage. One such claim came from a Times reporter:
The outage may have temporarily blocked readers from seeing the story, but it certainly didn’t help FSU’s image. Many users took to Twitter to attack the school and its fans.
The spam blockage had been removed by late afternoon, but Twitter did not make an immediate statement about it.
The FSU players–P.J. Williams, who was driving the vehicle, and Ronald Darby–allegedly fled the scene of an accident on the morning of October 5. The Times reports that officers on the scene did not test Williams–who was driving on a suspended license–for drugs or alcohol, and an online glitch prevented the incident from being logged into a public database. The story is the latest in the Times‘s reporting on schools and local police departments giving special treatment to college athletes.