Yahoo's 9/11 video lacks truth, respect for day of tragedy


Bill Rollin

Bill Rollin is a Communication/Journalism student at Shippensburg University.

Yahoo on Sept. 11 released a video on Facebook that advertised the opening of the new Cortlandt Street Subway Station at the World Trade Center in New York City. At 14 seconds into the video, it shows an image accredited to Getty Images, with the caption “Under rubble when the twin towers collapsed in 2011” — which any American knows is false, showing the true definition of media blindness in this generation. In under one hour this video had 185,000 views and only 36 comments, with only six viewers realizing Yahoo’s mistake.

Now I am here to ask the question to Yahoo, as well as other media sources that have a track record of falsifying information — why? In an era in which the government’s every decision is under scrutiny and every statement made by the president is released on Twitter, why are media outlets still getting the basics wrong? 

For those who are unfamiliar with the exact numbers of the tragedy, here are just a few to expand upon: 343 Fire Department of New York (FDNY) firefighters were killed when the towers collapsed, as well as 37 Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department (PAPD), 23 New York police officers and eight emergency medical technicians (EMTs).

As a firefighter in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, I understand the risks of the job. I can also say that should any other situation like this occur, I would be ready to sacrifice myself in that situation. 

Almost 3,000 Americans across the country were killed in these attacks; since that day another 10,000 have died as a result of cancer or other illnesses received from the toxic dust released after the collapse of the towers. For 17 years America has remembered this day, and starting next year, this will be the first age-group that is learning about 9/11 as a historical event. So why are we getting known history wrong?

I like to assume that I have good faith in people, but when working for a multimedia giant like Yahoo, you cannot afford to make mistakes. In reality, there were three people who completely dropped the ball with this mistake. 

It is sad that the video’s editor, their supervisor and Yahoo’s social media editor, made mistakes in a less than three-minute video. However, if you watched the news on Sept. 11, you will have noticed that no one said a word about it. Yahoo covered it up on their end by removing the video from their Facebook and Instagram accounts. 

Asking as a first-responder, a citizen and a journalist, how did we become so blind to getting the facts right? How did we become so ignorant to even think that the worst attack in American history was less than a decade ago? How did only a handful of people recognize that something was wrong? 

I am not asking to boycott Yahoo, I simply ask that Yahoo apologize for either knowingly or unknowingly producing false content, and making it seem like it did not matter. With the approximately 3,000 lives taken, tens of thousands injured, the city destroyed and our country changed forever, we owe it to ourselves and the generations after us to get this right. 

In the end, after Yahoo discovered its mistake it took the video down. This was an appropriate response, but a formal apology was never issued. This was still a big move on the company’s part, but in the eyes of many it came too little, too late. 

We will never forget the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and we should always remember how they really happened.


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