When the online mob doesn’t want facts

By now you probably realize and — even accept — that Minneapolis was not cast in a purple hue during the Super Bowl halftime show and the symbol of Prince did not appear out of the streetlights below.

It was a digital projection, The Current’s blog reveals. The same sort of process that allows you to see the first-down line, or the ads in a baseball stadium. They’re not really there.

Too bad, because all competition for America’s coolest city would’ve ended right here.

Knowing what social media can do to a person’s career in short order, however, it was a little scary watching what happened to WCCO meteorologist Mike Augustyniak, who lives downtown and looked out the window at the reality below, and dared to tell people.

People did not want to hear it.

“Why don’t you go tell the kids about Santa Claus now,” said one response.

The social media pitchforks came out, which isn’t a really big deal unless you’re a public figure in an industry that wants its employees to give people what they want. They wanted fantasy.

It could’ve easily spiralled out of control and, in fact, it got heated.

“Who hurt you?” one person asked mockingly.

“Straight people,” Augustyniak, who is gay, replied.

“How do you keep your job at WCCO?” responded another.

These are dangerous waters for people in the media and for more than an hour, Augustyniak was Twitter’s punching bag before pulling the plug.

Asked how the reaction compared to what he gets when he blows a forecast, Augustyniak suggested there’s no comparison.

“Sports twitter is disgusting, and that’s a fact,” he said.

It was another reminder that when the online mob is loose, facts don’t matter.