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Twitter sparks 'London gunman' panic

If the saga of the Playboy iPad app that never was (see previous story) shows us you can't trust everything you read in the tech blogosphere, then this is a story to remind us the same applies double - no, triple - to what you read on Twitter.

Yesterday a flurry of tweets went round London twitterers about a man brandishing a gun at Oxford Circus. One twitter-type thought they heard shots, another mentioned seeing a man with a gun moving around. Workers and shoppers were told to stay inside and not venture out while the scare was going on.

It was all nonsense. It wasn't even a film being shot, which would have been understandable. The source of the 'story,' if that's the word, was the operations manual for a police training exercise. The exercise required police to respond to a fictional gunman in Oxford Circus. Somehow - we suspect foul play - the commentary from the manual was put onto Twitter, mentioning the gunman, and the whole thing just mushroomed from there.

At least, that's what the police are saying now. We suppose it is possible that there really was a shooter, and this is all some sort of cover-up because it was Prince Harry or something. But that does seem a tad unlikely...

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