NN is a business student as USC, and shared a story she had heard about the squirrels on campus:
NN.) So basically, talking about the squirrel massacre, I did see a post by, I believe it was the Sack of Troy or Daily Trojan, it was one of those on Instagram, talking about USC having to euthanize the squirrels. I don’t remember which one, but our professor just told us about a rich kid who got bit by a squirrel and had to, like, file a lawsuit. But I also know, I’m an RA at Birnkrant, so one of my freshman residents was walking to, like, EVK and a squirrel like fully jumped on her.
Me.) And you were there to see this?
NN.) Um, no, but she came back and like, was asking me for a first aid kit and I saw her arm and it was, like, it was kind of bad.
Me.) Oh, wow.
NN.) I think she, I mean I gave her, like, a bandaid, but like, that didn’t really help, so I think she had to go to like an animal specialist, which is kind of funny.
Me.) Oh, wow, yeah.
NN.) She was scared she would have, like, rabies or something. That was really scary, I would be, like, really sad.
After I had collected this story from her, it came to light that the story had originated as an April Fool’s Day prank by the university’s satirical news publication, The Sack of Troy. While this prank was misinformation brought through social media by an organization, it shows how the information from authorities (I use this word loosely in this case) can be augmented by people’s personal experiences and become folklore. By adding her exposure to effects of squirrel attacks, she had added legitimacy to the story that otherwise wasn’t there. Information can knowingly be false, but become true through these mechanisms. While the April Fools day prank is over, it’s likely that the image of campus squirrels as violent will proliferate through the increased exposure that they have received.