15 Fake News Stories People Thought Were True
If you’ve followed the American news at all this year then you will be very familiar with the term “fake news”. But is this just a way for politicians and the media to attack each other? Or, sometimes, do the fake news stories have a real impact? Here’s fifteen fake news stories that snowballed out of control.
15 Richard Gere and the Gerbil
Richard Gere has been in many classic movies, such as Pretty Woman, Chicago and The Jackal. But no matter how many parts he plays or how much humanitarian work he does, for some people he will always be; that guy who put a gerbil up his ass. The story kind of appeared on its own, that Gere had been admitted to hospital with a dead gerbil where it really shouldn’t be. But then some tabloid papers reported on the rumours, even though there has never been a shred of evidence, and it became legend.
14 The Great Moon Hoax
Fake news is not a modern phenomenon though, it’s been around forever. In 1835, a New York penny paper called The Sun, reported that an astronomer had a good look at the moon and seen life up there. The luna beings had included Unicorns and beavers that walked on two legs. The news spread across America and was even picked up overseas, before the Sun admitted they had made it up.
13 Frankfurt Sex-Attacks
On the eve of 2016, there was a seemingly coordinated series of sex attacks in the German city of Cologne. So, when it was reported in one of Germany’s best-selling papers Bild that it had happened again in Frankfurt the next year, supposedly by a group of 50 Arab men, there was a wave of anger across Germany, adding to the big controversy in the country about refugees and immigration. But a police investigation found it to be completely made up and that the report was all based on one bar owner and a woman called Irina, who wasn’t even in Frankfurt that night.
12 Obama’s birth certificate
American Republicans really did not like Obama and there were a huge number of false rumours and fake reports circling about him, such as him banning the pledge of allegiance in schools and that he seized a Russian owned mansion and gave it to his daughters. But, the biggest of all was actually pushed by Donald Trump, that Obama wasn’t born in the US. It was discussed widely on right wing news channels. At one Whitehouse dinner, Obama jokingly said he had found his birth video to prove where he was born, and then rolled a clip from The Lion King.
During the 2016 American elections, a conspiracy theory grew that the chairman of the Hilary campaign, John Podesta, was part of a paedophile ring run out of a pizza shop. Pizzagate, as it was known, got so out of control that one of the conspiracy theorists Edgar Maddison Welch, went to the pizza place with an assault rifle and started shooting. He thankfully didn’t kill anyone and gave himself up to police. He was sentenced to 4 years in prison.
10 2016 election
The whole 2016 elections deserve their own entry on this list because there seemed to be more fake news than real news. It was later found out that many of the stories were actually being created by young guys from Balkans countries like Macedonia and Croatia. They set up fake sites and published anti-Trump and anti-Hilary content so they would get huge amounts of traffic and make money on advertising. There were many tricks, such as making the web address something like “CNN.com.de” so it looked real. Who knows what impact this had on the results of the election.
Sometimes, the fake news is actually just people not realising something is a joke. No one gets this more often than satirical news site; the onion They post funny and ridiculous stories, as well as satirical video reports and, despite being pretty famous, they still regularly create outrage when someone thinks it’s real. American congressman John Flemming was caught out when he posted an Onion video to his Facebook, furious at a story that Planned Parenthood were building an $8 billion abortionplex.
8 Lions versus midgets
One of the ways fake news spreads is when the story is put in a fake mock-up of a popular news site. One of the most ridiculous was one that looked exactly like a BBC News page but the reports was about how a lion had killed 42 Cambodian midgets in an organised ring fight. After it went viral, the author put a disclaimer at the top, saying it was fake, but no one seemed to notice because, well, you know, midgets fighting a lion is pretty attention grabbing.
7 iphone 5 hologram
Aatma Studio fooled a whole lot of people, including some of the stations affiliated with Fox News, when they released a video demonstrating the iphone5’s new holographic features. The video, which now has over 70 million views, shows videos being projected onto the wall and even someone typing on a table surface, using a keyboard projected from the phone.
6 Fake Seaweed
In China, there was a fake story about fake seaweed. The video showed a home cook finding thin strips of plastic bag among the seaweed they had just bought. Soon other versions of the story started appearing and going viral. And food panic set in. The fake story had such a big impact that wholesale seaweed prices dropped by 50% in some regions.
5 War of the Worlds
HG Wells is one of the masters of science fiction and his work, War of the Worlds, has been hugely influential on the genre. When it was broadcast in Britain, as a radio play, it was delivered in the style of a news report. But if you missed the introduction, and just turned on the radio, many people thought there really was an alien invasion going on. Ironically, the reports that the radio play caused a mass panic, were themselves fake, or at least massively overexaggerated.
4 Rupee GPS
In 2016, Indian PM Narendra Modi made a surprise announcement that all 500 and 1000 rupee notes would very soon not be accepted. The idea was to tackle corruption so anyone sitting on large piles of black market money would have to cash it in or lose it. The replacement would be a 2000 rupee note and quickly a rumour appeared that each note would contain a GPS trip so the government could track everyone’s movements. Not quite sure how you track 1.3 billion people but who lets reality get in the way of a good conspiracy.
The one acceptable form of fake news is the classic April Fools story. Every year, news sites, companies and networks, often release fame stories to see if they can catch out their audience. Best of all has to be YouTube’s Snoopavision. The video unveiled a new button on the youtube player. When you clicked it, you could watch the video in 360, with Snoop Dogg. Obviously, not a lot of people fell for it, but the story was huge because, let’s be honest, we really wanted it to be true.
2 Jackie Chan is dead, again
Jackie Chan seemingly defies death on a regular basis, whether it’s running down buildings, jumping of trucks or just seemingly never aging. So, it’s no real surprise that there have been a lot of false reports of his death. In 2013, he even posted a picture holding that day’s paper, to prove he was still alive and kicking…and chopping
One of the biggest sporting disasters ever was when 96 people were crushed to death at Hillsborough statium in the UK in 1989. It was at a football cup game between Liverpool and Nottingham forest and the day after, popular tabloid paper, The Sun, wrote how the crush had been the fault of the Liverpool fans and that they had even been seen pissing on policemen and pick pocketing the victims. It took decades for the true story to come out, showing it was police negligence and The Sun report was completely false. The newspaper is still boycotted across most of the city of Liverpool.