Viral tweet of child with Down syndrome who allegedly went missing in Manchester is total fake
In the immediate aftermath of the deadly suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, on Monday, a Twitter account posted a desperate plea for the internet's help.
"Everyone please retweet this help me!" the all-caps tweet began. "This my little brother Frank we went to concert tonight in #Manchester & now we can't find him pls."
As of Tuesday morning, the tweet is certifiably viral, garnering over 17,000 retweets from many people trying to spread awareness of Frank and his family's alleged plight.
But the story of the little boy pictured in the photo is a complete and utter fabrication.
Mic used a reverse Google image search to trace the photo back to its origins: a photo shoot for Downs Designs, a body-positive clothing company that designs fashion for adults and children with Down syndrome.
In a phone interview, Karen Bowersox, the company's owner, gave a full-throated condemnation of the false report.
"I don't know where this horrible human being got the photo," Bowersox said, "But this little boy, Griffith, he's now 10 years old, but he's about 2 or 3 in the photo, that's how long ago it was taken, and we are in the United States. I don't know where this horrible human being got the photo."
"Here we have this wonderful business helping people with Down syndrome and someone horrible, horrible does something like this," Bowersox said.
Upon realizing the photo was fake, Twitter users quickly sought to correct the record and rebuke the Twitter account's owner for playing to the raw pain of the people of Manchester and the international community at large.
Some said they would report the Twitter account for manipulating people's sympathies in the wake of a deadly attack, but as of Tuesday morning, both the account and the tweet are still up.
Though the story of "Frank" may be a total fabrication, a number of children were killed and injured by the Manchester Arena suicide bomber. The Associated Press reported that 12 children under the age of 16 were wounded in the attack.
Saffie-Rose Roussos, an 8-year-old, died from her injuries following the attack. Chris Upton, the headteacher at the primary school Roussos attended, remembered her as "a beautiful little girl in every aspect of the word."