In another example of how quicky digtal can spin out of control, a mysterious email reading “bello” was sent to all UCL students in the UK yesterday, causing thousands of spam messages to clog up inboxes
The email, which was sent out to all 26,000 students by someone pretending to be the London Universities president Michael Arthur.
It simply contained a one word greeting – “bello”. By the morning, the message had generated a gigantic email thread, with some students waking up to almost 3,000 unread messages.
The resulting replies from pranksters , caused a string of over spam messages to clog up inboxes.
The hashtag #bellogate even trended on Twitter as people signed up the all-student mailing list to OKCupid, PornHub and a One Direction fan club.
A parody account, @UCLbello, has also been set up in response.
The hashtag was the top trend on Twitter overnight in the UK, with more than 5,000 tweets using the term since the “Bello” email appeared. Many shared emails generated in the thread – in which students continued spamming each other with jokes and puns. “Bello? Is it me you’re looking for”, read one – a play on a Lionel Ritchie song.
While some have questioned UCL’s security policies, and expressed frustration about having to delete hundreds of unwanted messages, the sharpest criticism was directed at students who kept posting to the thread, by hitting “reply all” to the original email.
UCL has apologised for “multiple emails” received by students, and shut down the mailing list concerned. It is not known yet who was responsible, although some have jokingly pointed the finger at UCL’s rival, King’s College.