Social media and a web-only media outlet have gotten the University of Pennsylvania and Penn State mixed up.
That is causing an issue for Penn State, because a racist chat within the GroupMe text messaging app has targeted black Penn students and invited them for “daily lynchings.”
The problem for Penn State is that some social media users and media outlets don’t know the difference between the two universities. Some people have said this is happening at Penn State, and others like engadget.com have used pictures of Old Main as illustrations for stories.
Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers said nothing like this happened in Happy Valley and that she has “asked that (engadget.com) cease using the picture of our iconic Old Main for a story about Penn.”
“We have received a number of phone calls today from media outside of our area who have confused the University of Pennsylvania with Penn State,” Powers said. “We have been attempting to set the record straight for a few hours. The incidents being reported in the news story are from Penn in Philadelphia.”
A statement from Penn on Twitter indicated that the racist chat originated in Oklahoma.
“We are absolutely appalled that earlier today black freshman students at Penn were added to a racist GroupMe account that appears to be based in Oklahoma,” Penn said in a release. “The account itself is totally repugnant: It contains violent, racist and thoroughly disgusting images and messages. This is simply deplorable. Our police and information security staff are trying to locate the exact source and to determine if any steps can be taken to block the account.”