The Internet is a wonderful, magical land of trolls and mischief. Even the most careful reader can be easily fooled by all the fairy dust and misdirection. Here is a list of the top ten hoaxes that have caught the unwary and credulous Internet traveler so far in 2014.
Ryan Gosling’s Lost Adopted Child. In June, a Facebook fan of Ryan Gosling posted a tear-jerking story about how Gosling had adopted a nine month old child after the child’s mother, who had been a friend of his, had passed away. A year later, the child was reclaimed by the biological father, and a heartbroken Gosling reported his sad, bewildering loss to everyone. A teary-eyed, money-throwing Internet lapped up the sad story until it was later discovered that Ryan Gosling had never adopted a child. The situation described could never have taken place unless the biological father had first given up all rights to raise a child in the first place. The link accompanying the post was to a clothing merchant who was trying desperately to sell t-shirts that read, “If Lost, Please Return to Ryan Gosling.” Very desperately.
Obama has ordered the removal of ‘In God We Trust’ on all U.S. currency. In May, an email storm circulated claiming that President Obama was going to eliminate ‘In God We Trust’ from all U.S. currency because, well, that is what the Anti-Christ does, right? The source was the satire site National Report, which is like saying they read it from the bottom of a box of Fruit Loops. In order for such a thing to occur, the Republican-held Congress would have to abolish the 1955 law that made it mandatory for the phrase to appear on all U.S. coins and paper currency. A more credible, but infinitely less likely, story should have read, “Speaker Boehner Commands Republicans to Eliminate God From the United States.”
The Gateway Arch in St. Louis will be demolished in 2015. The demolition of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis is a perennial favorite among Internet lulz-artists. Why? The demolition con has a long history even before the Internet. In 1925, the master of swindle, Victor “Count” Lustig, convinced a group of Parisian scrap-metal traders that the French government hated the Eiffel Tower so much they wanted it demolished. Completely convinced by the Count’s handle-bar mustache, trench coat and official-looking limousine, one of the merchants, Andre Poisson, forked over a suitcase full of cash for the rights to bring Paris back to its pre radio-antenna-on-the-Champs-Élysées glory days. When he found out later that the Count had jumped on a train to Vienna probably laughing into his Foie Gras and Dom Perignon, Andre the embarrassed sucker never told anyone about the con. He probably wished snopes.com was around.
Walmart will no longer be accepting Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards. For all of the writers out there, not on Food Stamps, EBT is the card people get from the government when they need help feeding their starving, writing-hating children. A story started circulating in May from the fake news site Sunday Daily Times that Walmart was no longer accepting the government assistance cards. Many Internet writers later found out the story to be completely fabricated.
The recently released Guantanamo prisoner Mohammed Fazi decapitated five people. In June, a viral photo circulated among decapitated head lovers that purported to show Mullah Muhammed Fazi, bloody knife in hand, showing off five recently body-less enemies of Islam. Fazi, the former Taliban Deputy Defense Minister, had been held in Guantanamo since January of 2002 and had been released along with four others in exchange for the captured American soldier Bowe Bergdahl in May of this year. The horrendous photo was an attempt to discredit the prisoner exchange conducted by the Obama Administration, however, the person in the photo was not Mohammed Fazi, but the Dutch jihad fighter Khalid Abdurahman, who posted the photo himself while Fazi was still in Guantanamo in 2012. In other news, Obama critics are still trying to figure out why all Muslims look the same.
Paul Ryan likens the poor to stray cats who, once fed, will not go away. In June, a viral quote made the rounds on the Intertubz that the Wisconsin representative Paul Ryan likened the poor to stray cats who, once fed, will not go away. However, the quote was a complete fabrication made by paraphrasing a ten-year old statement by former South Carolina Lt. Governor Andre Bauer and attributing made-up words to Ryan. In other news, liberals are still trying to figure out this whole reading thing.
Ten U.S. states will end child support in 2015. In June, the scion of Internet truthiness, the Sunday Daily Times, reported that ten U.S. states, including Georgia, South Carolina and New York, will end child support payments because 65 percent of fathers pay child support for children who are not theirs. Notwithstanding the complete lack of sense of the fabricated story, most of the women in these states did not realize they were married to the state government and, in any case, they just wish state officials would get a real job.
Ohio replaces lethal injection with a head-ripping machine. After the botched lethal injection of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma in April, a fake news clip went viral on youtube claiming that the state of Ohio was going to replace lethal injection with a head-ripping machine. Decapitated head lovers worldwide were disappointed to hear that the story was originally posted on fake news site The Onion.
U.S. House of Representatives Bill H.R. 2847 will destroy the U.S. economy beginning on July 1st. H.R. 2847, the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act, was passed in March 2010, but that does not stop financial scam artists from trying to convince the Internet that a four year old bill will be disastrous on exactly July 1st of 2014. Internet readers can avoid the worst of the impending apocalypse by forking over $149 to receive a fool-proof, and hopefully bomb-proof, monthly newsletter that will save them from the inevitable zombie uprising.
Flo is dead. In June, the Internet was abuzz with news that Progressive Insurance spokeswoman Flo, played by Stephanie Courtney, had died in a tragic car-accident in New York. The entire story was a cruel prank played out by the hoax site eBuzzd which often publishes, for reasons known only to them and their psychiatrists, satire stories about gruesome celebrity injuries, including death hoaxes.
Of course, the Internet will never learn from the top ten hoaxes of the first half of 2014. Come December, another list of hoaxes will have fooled the Internet once again.
Satire by Steve Killings