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Sandy's 'Twitter villain' unmasked, says he's sorry

  • Twitter user's false storm info spread quickly online
  • He resigned from GOP candidate's staff after being identified
  • Apologized for 'irresponsible and inaccurate tweets'
Sandy's 'Twitter villain' unmasked, says he's sorry

During the height of the chaos, confusion and fear caused by Superstorm Sandy's East Coast arrival, one guy was doing his best to make matters worse.

Twitter user @ComfortablySmug was blasting out "breaking news" hoaxes to his more than 6,000 followers, who in turn retweeted many of these urgent updates believing they were legit.

His claims that Con Edison was going to shut off power to all of Manhattan, that the MTA declared the subway would be down for a week and that the NYSE had suffered devastating flooding all spread rapidly on Twitter and created additional panic.

These were completely untrue. And that last one was retweeted more than 500 times.

Once anonymous, the man behind the lies was unmasked Tuesday as a 29-year-old former hedge fund manager and paid consultant for a GOP candidate for Congress named Shashank Tripathi. Actually, Tripathi is now a former campaign consultant.

After being publicly identified (and vilified), he resigned from his position Tuesday night in an apology for his tweets, which he posted on -- of course -- Twitter.

"I wish to offer the people of New York a sincere, humble and unconditional apology. During a natural disaster that threatened the entire city, I made a series of irresponsible and inaccurate tweets," he wrote.

Then followed a classic bit of humblebragging: "While some would use the anonymity and instant feedback of social media as an excuse, I take full responsibility for my actions."

::slow clap::  Well, bravo. You are so brave.

Tripathi's account, once booming with activity, has gone silent since he posted his apology.

His identity was revealed by BuzzFeed contributor Jack Stuef, who says he matched a partially obscured photo of @ComfortablySmug with the unedited version of the same photo posted elsewhere online.

Follow Jonathan Anker on Twitter @JonFromHLN

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