Sometime around the high school lunch hour Tuesday, Anchorage School District officials began getting phone calls about a possible Ebola outbreak at a high school, said a district spokesperson.
A Twitter hoax of unknown origin caused ASD and the Anchorage Police Department to work together all afternoon the quash the rumor, which ASD spokesperson Heather Roach said went "viral."
"It is 100 percent not true," said Roach. "Someone took a screenshot of our website and used Photoshop so it looked like it came from us but it didn't. It was 100 percent false."
Shortly after 3 p.m., APD tweeted that it was actively investigating the threat and searching for the person responsible for starting the rumor.
APD spokesperson Anita Shell said starting an Ebola rumor could be grounds for arrest on a charge of terroristic threatening, a class B felony. "It is terroristic threatening if it causes mass panic," said Shell.
What action the district would take if the prankster is identified is unclear.
"I don't think they'd be punished," said Roach. "Obviously if a student makes a threat they would, but just starting rumors, I don't know specifically. I don't know where it originated from."
This isn't the first time the district has been the victim of a false rumor at the hands of a Photoshop-savvy individual, but Roach said it's usually just false alerts about snow days.
There are no reported Ebola cases in Alaska.
Anyone with information on where the Ebola Twitter hoax started is urged to call APD at 907-786-8900.
Alaska Dispatch Publishing