16 Internet Fakes That Millions Believed

Diply 3 Jul 2018

As has been said before in various forms, a lie can make it around the world before the truth has pulled on its boots. That has only gotten worse in the age of the internet. The truth can hardly get a sock on, never mind boots.

And by the time truth has finally made it to the scene, a lie might have set up shop and dug itself in, harder to get rid of than ever. That's why we do this — to help finally scrub away some of the internet's most stubborn grime.

1. When this image popped up with the caption,"The only thing you'll ever have to worry about is how to explain it to the kids," tabloids built on it and ran.

Shanghaiist | Shanghaiist

They concocted a story about a man who sued his wife because his children were too ugly. And yeah, an incendiary story like that definitely went viral. One problem: this family doesn't exist. It's an ad for plastic surgery.

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2. Fakery built upon fakery to make The Shed at Dulwich the No. 1 restaurant on TripAdvisor. 

Facebook | The Shed At Dulwich

Of course, the restaurant didn't exist. Oobah Butler, a writer for Vice, made it all up, even going as far as hosting a website and developing a trendy "mood" menu. He had friends and friends of friends far and wide submit glowing reviews, and the fact that it seemed "constantly booked" only fueled a growing fever for The Shed.

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3. Some activists perpetrated a fairly convincing hoax about the Washington Redskins changing their name to the Redhawks in 2018.

Twitter | @redhawksdc

They worked up some fake web pages mimicking major media outlets like Sports Illustrated and ESPN, made up a logo, Facebook and Twitter accounts, and a press release with fake quotes. It was enough that the team had to release a real, official statement denying it all, as well as denying any plans to change the team's name whatsoever.

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4. This refugee's inspiring journey from Senegal to Europe garnered thousands of followers on Instagram before being exposed as phony.

Instagram | @abdoudiouf1993

Turns out, it was all a marketing ploy for a photography festival in Spain. The guy behind the account, Tomas Pena, told the BBC that he likened his campaign to Orson Welles' War of the Worlds broadcast.

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5. Political footballs make wonderful fodder for internet hoaxes, and Time Magazine found itself in the middle of one after someone altered one of their covers to work up a doozy.

Twitter | @ahaveland

The hoax claimed an old Time cover from 1977 had been found predicting an ice age, in contrast to actual warming climates. The real cover story came from a 2007 issue. And apparently this hoax was good enough to make it to President Trump's desk.

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6. Internet fakeries can be vicious and have real-world consequences, like one perpetrated on a French construction firm.

Facebook | VINCI Construction

Vinci SA's share price crashed one day after media picked up a phony story about their CFO being fired over "accounting irregularities worth several billion euros." The perpetrator made a fake web page, fake email address, and fake phone number to fool the press.

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7. It would be amazing to see a real dusting of snow on Egypt's beautiful monuments, and after a real snowfall in Egypt, photos supposedly showing the Sphinx under snow made the rounds on the internet.

Terry Gorski's Blog | Terry Gorski's Blog

However, they weren't the real monuments — these were photos of miniature replicas taken on a snowy day at Japan's Tobu World Square.

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8. If there's any bigger question in the James Bond universe than "Who will be the next Bond?", it's "What will the next Bond movie be called?"

Facebook | James Bond 007

Internet pranksters had an idea for the 24th Bond movie that spread quickly around the internet, fooling even some legit media outlets, probably because they created a convincing trailer for their imaginary flick, Come and Dive. The prank created a bit of a mess for Sony, but they have done a pretty thorough job of scrubbing the internet of the phony movie.

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9. The internet went wild for this image of Keanu Reeves apparently helping out some fans in need. 

Reddit | unknown_human

But no, it's just a pic of Keanu with some fans who shared a flight with him. The original post — by Junior Frederico, not Lucas Santos — said nothing about Keanu paying excess baggage charges. But it sure seems like something Keanu would do!

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10. Keanu has been hit with internet fakeries more than once, including this post about him taking a paparazzo's camera. 

Reddit | Marquetan

Again, you kind of want to believe he'd mess with those paparazzi parasites, don't you? But no, this is just a still from a movie he did called Generation Um..., from a scene where he steals a camera.

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11. Just like paying for excess baggage seems like a Keanu thing to do, giving a picture of himself to Elon Musk seems like a Recep Erdogan thing to do.

Reddit | oguz279

But he didn't. Turkey's controversial president actually gave Elon his book, The Vision of New Turkey — The World is Bigger Than Five. Which is way better, I know.

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12. Many media outlets were happy to pick up on the outrage after KFC reportedly asked a little girl to leave due to disfiguring injuries.

The Mirror | The Mirror

That certainly would be outrageous! In truth, the KFC incident never happened. However, the girl's injuries were real and the publicity helped spread word of the family's GoFundMe site, which racked up $135,000 in donations.

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13. Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is, like with this guy's name.

Fox 5 | Fox 5

He insisted Facebook closed his account many times and even showed a passport to prove that his unlikely name was true. However, after fooling enough people — and media outlets — the prankster behind it all came forward, saying that "Out of this ordeal I've concluded not to trust the credibility of the media, it's twisted by the hungry journalists who mask the truth."

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14. Even though it feels like there's an app for everything, an app for strangers who want to toss knuckles with other strangers doesn't sound right. 

Imgur | iamyourgrandmaandtotallynotawolf

But it kind of does, you know? Anyway, Rumblr claimed to be a fight club on the go, but it was all fake. It was set up, once again, as a marketing stunt.

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15. Viral videos aren't always real, either, although we really want to believe video evidence, don't we? 

YouTube | The MozaiK

This vid of an eagle appearing to try to make off with a kid was intentionally mocked up as part of a class assignment to see how realistic a video the students could make. Turns out they overshot their goal of 100,000 views by 13 million or so, and they had to fess up.

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16. Who wouldn't want to visit a beautiful river lined by purple trees in a magical-sounding place? 

Twitter | @CaDiaDi

Well, a lot of people would, but heading to Scotland would only bring disappointment. For one thing, that's a pic of the Shotover River in New Zealand, and for another, the trees there aren't purple either, unfortunately.

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