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27/02/2008

Fake Electrocution Sparks Panic For 'Untraceable'

An 'alternate reality game' (ARG) on video blogging community Seesmic (www.seesmic.com), was brought to a premature close last week after one of the site's moderators mistook the staged torture of a community member for the real thing and threatened to involve the police.
Creative marketing agency The Picture Production Company (PPC) launched the ARG for Universal Pictures to promote the UK theatrical release of 'Untraceable', this Friday (29 February).
The ARG depicted the abduction and killing of a member of the invite-only community, mirroring the storyline of Untraceable, in which a serial killer creates an "untraceable" website where he conducts violent and painful murders live on the net.
A series of clips were filmed live by webcam and posted to the site at regular intervals, over a 48-hour period.
They showed a community member, nicknamed Sharpeshooter, being subdued and violently electrocuted.
The ARG used a related Twitter feed to create a digital 'paper-trail' leading back to www.killwithme.com, the film's official website.
"This strand of the Untraceable campaign was always intended to be highly provocative," said Neil Wirasinha, Director of International Advertising Media, Universal Pictures.
"We were looking to promote a reaction and we've definitely achieved this. And it brings to life the question at the heart of the film - would you watch it?"
The ARG was closed after Seesmic contacted PPC to make them aware that a member of staff had been on the brink of involving the authorities.
PPC are currently in discussion with Seesmic about broadening the activity into a conversation with its members about some of the issues the community and its operators face relating to the moderation and censorship of violent or disturbing user-submitted content.
(DS)
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