It looks like one of those video-sharing sites that's not GooTube. It even ends in ".tv", the way the cool sites do now. An embedded video window beckoned me to click Play.
It started to play a news clip from Miami television station WBFX, talking about a serial killer on the loose. As people in hazmat suits clean up a bloody crime scene, a youthful reporter described the demographics of the victims, and they were all remarkably like me-- male, early 40s, background in journalism. Geez.
But then comes the real punchline: I've been hoaxed. The website and video are part of a viral promotion for Dexter, a show on FXUK about, wouldn't you just guess, a serial killer. Someone I know -- one of my closest friends, actually -- entered my name, demographics, and email into the website, which then generated the video and sent me a link. Now that I'm in on the gag, the website offered me the opportunity to scare it forward by providing someone else's info. Even though, in a world in which a major city can be paralyzed with fear by a few strategically placed Lite-Brites, a website that cranks out serial killer threats is wrong in too many ways to count.
Of course, I sent one to everyone I know.
So far the responses I've gotten have been muted: real death threats, charges of assault, social ostracism (my brother's email read simply: "You are no longer my brother."). Even when they later claim to notice the anomalies in the video -- a Miami tv station would never call a parking lot a "car park", the "handwritten" message is written in Helvetica type, there is no WBFX in Miami -- seeing their name in blood was terrifying to every one of my victims. They calmed their fears by promptly sending a video to everyone they know.
The next step: some moron will send one of these to an elected official, and wind up on the receiving end of some Secret Service lovin'.