About that EDL Newtown tweet

A note before anything else: I’m no fan of the EDL. I’d be happy to see them disappear entirely from the UK’s political discourse, because I think they add nothing of any benefit. But I firmly believe that facts, and fact-checking, are important. So, here’s something we should discuss.

The other night, screengrabs started circulating of a pretty disgusting tweet from the EDL about the Newtown attack. The EDL claims that it was faked, and a video was posted online in support of its veracity. Here’s a grab:

The video shows a tweet ID of 241922092158143412 in the address bar. If you try to call up that tweet, either via the web or the API, you’ll get a not found error.

But here’s the thing: tweet IDs are not random or sequential – they’re generated by a tool called Snowflake, based on a timestamp. So, in theory, you could decode an ID back to a timestamp. And there’s code, here (created by @NGalbreath),that allows you to do just that.

So I decoded the ID. You can see the results here.

The first decode is a test, using my own tweet here. You’ll note that the decoded time is two hours out, but with the correct date – I’m assuming this is a time zone issue, as my server is not in the UK.

The second decode is tweet ID 241922092158143412. You’ll note that it’s from September sometime.

So, this suggests to me one of three possibilities:

A) I’ve read the tweet ID incorrectly – as I did, in fact, the first time I tried. If so, please let me know (though I see that the Bartholemew’s Notes blog has read the same ID), or

B) Either the Snowflake to UTC converter, or my implementation of it, is incorrect*, or

C) The tweet was faked

I’d be very pleased if somebody could reassure me that the correct answer is either 1 or 2, because we really shouldn’t have to resort to option 3 when it comes to idiots like the EDL.

* Geeks – I used: echo(gmdate(‘Y-m-d H:i:s’, (snowflake2utc(241922092158143412))));

One response to “About that EDL Newtown tweet”

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