If you log in to Facebook at any given time, there’s a decent chance you’ll see an article posted by some friend of yours from high school which, if the story were true, would be pretty troubling. But before you freak out, there’s a good chance your friend was simply had by a popular internet prank.
Here are five hoaxes spreading around the gullible social web lately.
1. Obama Is Going To Be Impeached
This is what happens when ignorance and wishful thinking collide. Back in October, the Daily Currant published a story claiming the House Republicans were planning to impeach President Obama. Now, for those who are confused, The Daily Currant is a satirical website that has no idea how satire works. It desperately wants to be The Onion, but it fails miserably. Mostly because rather than posting satirical news stories with actual jokes, they just post fake stories of things that could conceivably happen, but probably won’t. Unlike The Onion, which usually has a “tell” in its stories (i.e. something that makes it very clear this is a joke), The Daily Currant tends to just make things up and call it satire. In this case, if Obama actually were to be impeached, it would be the biggest story in the country, and the odds of an internet site you’ve never heard of until just now having the exclusive story are slim to nil.
2. Obama Is Running For A Third Term
Okay, you may be noticing a pattern here. There are a lot of people who don’t like the President. There are also a lot of people who don’t pay a ton of attention to the news. There’s a cross-section of these people, and as a result, if a fake story about Obama doing something bad, or something bad happening to him pops up, a ton of people will wind up posting it. Obviously, if the President was planning on blatantly violating the U.S. Constitution by running for a third term, it would be a really big deal. Fox News would be apoplectic, and for once, they would actually have good reason to do so. Suffice it to say, Obama will not be seeking a third term, and any article claiming otherwise can be quickly disregarded.
3. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson Is Dead
Some backstory here; last year Paul Walker, star of the Fast And The Furious films died tragically in a car crash. This was after there was a hoax story about him dying earlier in the year. It was a spooky coincidence, and apparently, some of the particularly depraved folks on the internet decided they would try to go two for two, and started a hoax about his Fast & Furious 6 co-star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson passed away after falling 60 feet off a cliff. The second you noticed that no reputable entertainment site — not even TMZ — took this story seriously, it was pretty clear to tell this was a lie, but that didn’t stop people from falling for the obvious ploy anyway.
4. The Drinking Age Will Be Raised To 25
Okay, not gonna lie, as someone who will be 24 for 11 more months, this one briefly startled me a little bit. But it’s completely untrue. A new site called the Sunday Times Daily allows people to create fake news stories for the purpose of fooling their Facebook friends. Considering how much confusion there is already, this seems like a terrible idea. But a lot of people have gone in for this sort of prank, and this one, claiming a four-year increase in the legal drinking age managed to go viral led to some understandable freakouts. But rest assured, it’s more real that the novelty newspapers you can buy at your local laser tag complex.
5. Feminists Want To End Father’s Day
Unlike most of these stories, which languished on obscure websites and were shared by gullible Facebook folks, this one actually managed to fool the mainstream media. Well, if Fox News qualifies as the mainstream media, that is. On 4chan, a group of Men’s Rights Activists attempted to make feminists look crazy by creating the twitter hashtag #EndFathersDay, attempting to make it look that feminists wanted to end the beloved June greeting card holiday. Very few feminists took the bait, but the 4channers prank wound up being accidentally successful because they were able to demonstrate the gullibility of the Fox News, as well as their over-enthusiasm to latch on to story that might fit with their conservative agenda.