What links a reporter and the robot apocalypse?

  • 2 July 2015
Connor v O'Connor: on the left, Linda Hamilton, who starred in the Terminator films; on the right, Sarah O'Connor, employment correspondent for the Financial Times
Image caption Connor v O'Connor: on the left, Linda Hamilton, who played Sarah Connor in the Terminator films; on the right, Sarah O'Connor, employment correspondent for the Financial Times

A journalist started a Twitter storm when she reported an industrial accident in Germany - but the huge interest wasn't about the story. It was sparked by an inadvertent reference to a sci-fi classic.

Sarah O'Connor is the employment correspondent for the Financial Times and in her own words, she normally tweets "really boring stuff about unit wage costs." On a good day, her Twitter bon mots might get a few dozen retweets. But then she tweeted this: "A robot has killed a worker in a VW plant in Germany".

For fans of the Terminator film series, it was a coincidence too good to ignore. For those of you not already familiar: the heroine of the series, Sarah Connor, is humanity's last hope, and pursued relentlessly by Arnold Schwarzenegger's Terminator, a cyborg sent from the future. The similarity in names and the report of a human death at the hands of a machine kicked Twitter into overdrive, and soon fans flooded the journalist's feed with film references. "Exterminate exterminate!" wrote one. Another tweeted: "I knew it would come to this. I just didn't think it would be so soon! Get my 40-watt pulse rifle!"

More than 1,500 tweets mentioned the journalists's name, and of course many of the most popular messages included stills of the original films:

Image caption Translation: "Sarah O'Connor reported that a robot killed a man"

But of course some more pedantically inclined fans intervened: "Don't mean to ruin everyone's fun but Sarah Connor is in Terminator! Not O'Connor!!" tweeted one man.

The real Sarah O'Connor said she never watched the films and many of the references passed her by. And, clearly frustrated with the unintended attention her tweet caused, she tried to remind everyone about the seriousness of the original story: "Feeling really uncomfortable about this inadvertent Twitter thing I seem to have kicked off. Somebody died. Let's not forget."

Blog byMai Noman

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