Rythie's Blog

Technology and stuff

Clearing Up the "Back to the Future" Mis-information

There is meme going around that Doc Brown in the film "Back to the Future", was planning to travel forward to this day, before he got gunned down by the Libyans. It all started with this tweet by @totalfilm (official Twitter account of the Total Film magazine). 

So what actually happened in the Film? Doc Brown is about to leave 1985 to go to the future, here's the quote:

"Marty: The future,? So where you going?

Doc: That's right, 25 years into the future. I've always dreamed on seeing the future, looking beyond my years, seeing the progress of mankind. I'll also be able to see who wins the next 25 World Series." (source)

Now, Back to the Future was first released in the USA on the 3rd of July 1985 and that's maybe where the confusion comes from. The current date as shown in the time machine is the 26 October 1985 so it's wrong. Total film did try to correct themselves, but, posting a photoshopped picture, was not the best way and attached tweet was unclear. The Guardian's blog also confirms that this incorrect.

It's now 7 hours after the original tweet and people are still passing on this information in vast numbers:


Twitter we have a problem

Twitter is fast moving system and sometimes people make mistakes and I can understand that. Typically the way to resolve this is to send an updated message to all your followers admitting you made a mistake. The problem however, comes in when people start retweeting your incorrect tweet, you can't inform all those who received the incorrect tweet about the error. In fact it gets worse as people remove the original attribution and pass the tweet off as an original tweet of their own (as you can see it the screenshot above). Of course blogs don't have this problem, people simply update the post with new information as it comes to light. Facebook and blogs also have comments so the post can be shouted down for inaccuracies there, even before the post is updated.

So is this a problem? Well today it's some tweet about meaningless facts from a 25 year old film, but tomorrow it could be mis-information about someone's death for example, though it's not like that hasn't happened before.


There is also a nice video on Vimeo showing the actual dates entered into the time machine http://www.vimeo.com/13099195 [Update: Now taken down]

Update 2:

Please help stop the spread of mis-information by retweeting the following tweet 

 (links here) which should make it to the top of Twitter's search page if enough people do it.

Update 3:

There are numerous people now reposting the photoshoppedpicture that Total Film did, but of course the copies don't say it's fake, sigh.

Update 4:

Total Film have now written a proper apology about the hoax they inadvertely created.

Update 5:

I don't think Total Film even started this hoax, though they claim to have come it with all by themselves, it was all over twitter for a day previously. From looking at the comments in Total Film's post, and looking at the Twitter search history, I'm pretty sure that @gavmccaughey's tweet at 4:40AM GMT/UTC on the 4th of July, was the first tweet of his hoax and that itself was retweeted over 100 times. Thanks to Brown727's blog for the information.

Also we can see that is the first tweet to mention it (I've looked through several pages and no one was tweeting about it before):