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A woman went ‘missing’ at E3 and the internet tried to find herthen all hell broke loose

For all the good Reddit can do, it can make an enormous mess of things, and then it can react badly when the mess it makes backfires.

It’s E3 week, which is usually supposed to mean a cavalcade of video game announcements and fan disappointment. It usually doesn’t mean a coordinated online manhunt, involving the local authorities, for a woman whose cellphone died.

Laura Lania is a popular game streamer who was visiting E3, where she had set up meetings and appearances at a few panels. After showing up at Twitch’s party on Wednesday night, Lania’s social media went dark and she did not come to any of her scheduled appointments on Thursday.

Early on Thursday, colleague @ashleeeeean put out a call on Twitter to anyone who had seen Lania in the day since. Presumably, the tweet was of good-natured concern and worry. It also started a whole heap of trouble.

Soon after the tweet went out, multiple gaming outlets on Twitter retweeted the message with their own pleas for help. Those were followed up with multiple reddit threads, rallying communities to try and locate the missing person.

The threads continued into Thursday night, and the original tweet received almost 25,000 retweets. The heightened activity, whether through Reddit or through Twitter, led to the involvement of the local Los Angeles authorities to search for her as a missing person. (LAPD told us that a missing person report went by a case by case basis, depending on the severity of the situation and no press release had been sent out to local media during the time of her disappearance.)

Meanwhile, Reddit spun its detective skills up (which has previously led to disastrous results) and searched high and low for Lania. That’s when she reappeared.

It was only six hours between the time of the initial tweet and when Lania sent the tweet, but that was enough time to get a portion of the internet whipped up into a frenzy, with photos of her flying through timelines.

By the time Lania returned to social media, she faced a barrage of internet sleuths and well-wishers all expecting some grand reason that she had gone underground. Many even suspected that her phone was hacked to send the tweet.

So, she recorded a video with a borrowed phone.

“I am fine… I’m shaking because this is crazy,” she said. “I just wanted to have a day alone and playing poker … I never in a million years thought that this kind of thing would happen. I am sorry.”

Well, that wasn’t good enough for many angry people.

A backlash formed, then a backlash to the backlash, then a backlash to the backlash to the backlash.

Some people were furious because they felt they had been betrayed by their outpouring of support, then others called out the angered ones for not letting a woman live, then others doubled down on anger by throwing up wild conspiracy theories.

Just another day in America.

People accused Lania and @ashleeeeean of a publicity stunt. They accused Lania of spending the night with someone else and cheating on her boyfriend. They accused Lania of being a drunk. They accused her of lying. They accused her, and basically all women, of a lot of things.

Some people even demanded to see proof of where she was the night before, and she complied by showing her receipts.

@ashleeeeean, the person behind the original tweet, even did a livestream Q&A this afternoon, saying again and again that this was not a publicity stunt or a hoax.

After facing so much internet ire, Lania had initially said she was quitting streaming, though @ashleeeeean said that she had retracted that statement. Still, the lasting anger that festered out of what had appeared to be the internet’s good will seems to have cast a shadow over her E3 trip and, possibly, her career.

Mashable has reached out to Lauralania for comment and will update if we receive a response.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/06/16/lauralania-e3-missing-internet-rage/

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