In the hours after the tragic shootings at a school in Newtown, USA which saw 26 adults and children killed, a message attributed to the respected actor Morgan Freeman started doing the rounds on Facebook, the veteran attacking the way that the media had reported the incident, suggesting that they were making a star of the killer as opposed to remembering the names of the dead, and going on to add that others may see their pedestal and attempt to emulate it.

However, Freeman’s statement has been revealed to be a hoax, by his publicist, who informed The Wrap that the actor hasn’t passed any public comment on the atrocities of Friday, December 14. Freeman’s supposed message read: ‘It’s because of the way the media reports it… Turn on the news and see how we treat the Batman theater shooter and the Oregon mall shooter like celebrities. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris are household names, but do you know the name of a single 'victim' of Columbine? Disturbed people who would otherwise just off themselves in their basement see the news and want to top it by doing something worse and going out in a memorable way. Why a grade school? Why children? Because he’ll be remembered as a horrible monster instead of a sad nobody.”

There were never any links to a source for the quote, and now The Inquistr is suggesting that a user ‘Mark’ from Vancouver was the original poster, having written a similar long post on his own account, before quipping underneath "If I know the Internet, someone will attribute the quote to Morgan Freeman or Betty White and it'll go viral." What it does show is the relatively unregulated nature of social networking, and the huge impact an online game of Chinese whispers can have – something not helpful, particularly when surrounding an incident so raw.