A fake email that appeared to be sent by President L. Rafael Reif addressing all of MIT was sent to all MIT dorms at 1 a.m. this morning, announcing that all classes would be cancelled for Wednesday, March 20, due to “threatening requests” regarding the Swartz case. The email followed a letter from Reif yesterday morning to the MIT community laying out the Institute’s plans for releasing evidence from the Swartz case.
The email was in fact a “joke” email sent by Delian T. Asparouhov ’15, impersonating sender and recipient information in the email header.
Some students believed the email at first, which listed Reif as the sender and “allmit” (a mailing list addressing all of campus) as the recipient. However, the hoax became clear as the same email began to flood inboxes, and subjects lines contained the names of dormitory mailing lists, indicating that it had really been sent to each dorm and not to all of MIT.
In a phone interview with The Tech, Asparouhov said, “Sorry, that email from Rafael Reif was really from me. I was just trying to joke around, and did not mean to bring in such a serious matter like Aaron Swartz. Sorry, just a kid messing around.”
The email was sent over 100 times to some recipients by a script written by Asparouhov. Asparouhov said that he only sent the email once, but he left his script up and visits from others triggered the rest of the emails. “The mistake that I made was that I put it up on my scripts account. What I did stupidly was that I left that script there, and people were going to that page and refreshing that page,” Asparouhov said. “By the time I shut it down over 100 emails had been sent.”