Some members of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology community got a rude surprise early Wednesday when an email supposedly sent from the school’s president canceling classes was instead revealed to be a hoax.
MIT said that just after 1 a.m. some members of the school were sent an email that pretended to be from President L. Rafael Reif and appeared to be addressed to the entire community.
“The email stated that President Reif had decided to cancel classes today. The email was a hoax: Classes are not canceled, and the institute will operate as usual today,” MIT said in a statement.
According to The Tech, the student newspaper, the hoax email made a connection to the Aaron Swartz situation.
“I am writing to explain an important step that MIT has decided to take relating to the Aaron Swartz situation. Since this action affects members of our community, directly or indirectly, I want you to hear about it from me,” the hoax email said. “MIT has received several threatening requests in the media. Based on my initial reports, I believe it is best that we cancel classes for tomorrow.”
In its statement, the school said that at 4 a.m. a vice president sent an email to the community alerting people of the hoax e-mail and confirming that classes would take place as scheduled.
The Tech said the hoax email had been sent to more than 100 people.
When asked about Asparouhov's status, a school spokeswoman said internal disciplinary proceedings and decision are confidential.
In an online posting, sophomore Delian Asparouhov took credit for the hoax email.
Within hours after sending the prank, Asparouhov offered an apology on his webpage.
"Earlier today I sent out an email to most of MIT which alluded to a very controversial situation and spoofed as if it was sent from the president of MIT. This email produced fear and caused many people to be angry that someone would take such a serious matter so lightly. I’d like to apologize for the damage I caused to the MIT community, especially in light of the recent events that have caused large amounts of strife, which I only added to," Asparouhov wrote.
Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.