Bodies of the victims of the April 19, 1995, bombing of the A. P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City were still being removed from the rubble on April 25 when an anonymous post appeared on AOL advertising “Naughty Oklahoma T-Shirts” for sale. The post used the screen name “Ken ZZ03” and said that items could be purchased by calling a Seattle phone number and asking for “Ken.” Similar posts advertising T-shirts and other items, from screen names “Ken ZZ033” and “Ken Z033,” appeared during the few days following. Each of the posts listed the same Seattle phone number and directed a caller to “Ask for Ken.” The phone number belonged to Ken Zeran, a Seattle resident who knew nothing about the posts.
The T-shirts being advertised bore tasteless slogans referring to the bombing (among the least offensive was “Visit Oklahoma–It’s a Blast”). Needless to say, AOL users were appalled–more accurately, angry–at the posts. So many decided to call “Ken” at the Seattle number and share their disgust that the phone rang incessantly for weeks, gradually tapering off in mid–May after local press in Oklahoma City exposed the postings as a cruel hoax using fake AOL accounts.
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