What was fake on the Internet this week: UFO attacks, Solange tweets and those twins born holding hands


Jessica Biel, Beyonce, Jay-Z and Solange at the Grammy Awards in February. The family has drama, just not THAT much drama. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for NARAS)

There is so much fake stuff on the Internet in any given week that we’ve grown of tired of debunking it all. Fake Twitter fights. Fake DHL ads. Amazing viral video? Nope — a Jimmy Kimmel stunt!

So, rather than take down each and every undeservedly viral story that crosses our monitors each week, we’re rounding them all up in a quick, once-a-week Friday debunk of fake photos, misleading headlines and bad studies that you probably shouldn’t share over the weekend.

Ready? Here’s what was fake on the Internet this week:

1. Those identical twin girls were not born holding hands. Jillian and Jenna Thistlewaite entered the world to global acclaim last Friday, when the children’s hospital in Akron, Ohio, tweeted a picture of the newborns in the delivery room with their little baby hands clasped. “These #Monoanmiotic twins came out holding hands!” a heart-warming caption read — so heart-warming, in fact, that the babies earned a spot on the “Today” show and pretty much every lady-blog on the Web. Alas, as “Today” clarified after its segment aired, the twins weren’t actually born holding hands — they just grabbed each other afterward. Which, while still cute, isn’t quite the same thing.

2. Solange did not send that tweet about Jay-Z. The Internet was a-twitter this week with theories about the Great Elevator Schism of 2014, each more fantastical than the last. Alas, the real story is far less sexy than the rumors. A purported screenshot from Solange Knowles’s Twitter feed, wherein she accused brother-in-law Jay-Z of hitting her sister, Beyonce, was Photoshopped by some ambitious prankster. Solange hasn’t tweeted about the fight at all, which is probably a good call on her part. Consider this your weekly reminder: Screenshots taken from Twitter are very easy to manipulate.

3. New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger is not on Twitter. A Times spokeswoman debunked the account and complained to Twitter only an hour after @ASulzberger sent its first — fairly credible-looking! — tweet. The account has since been suspended. (And we were only just gearing up for the Jill Abramson jokes!)

4. Mallard Air is not “the Midwest’s newest budget airline.” But after two weeks of tweets from the hysterically on-point @MallardAir, we kind of wish it was. The account, which claims to be the corporate feed for a (nonexistent) regional airline, has cheerfully bumbled through just about every cliche error a corporate account could make. The Daily Dot suspects it’s a “Funny or Die” stunt. Timely!

5. A UFO did not attack a Taliban training camp. More than 1.6 million people have watched a video of the alien “attack,” purportedly filmed by U.S. Marines, since it was uploaded to YouTube earlier this month. Tabloids like the Daily Mail and the New York Daily News have given it weirdly credulous coverage. Bad news, UFOlogists: The video was taken from a clip of a factory explosion, first uploaded to Youtube as early as 2009.

Did we miss any other notable fake stuff this week? E-mail caitlin.dewey@washpost.com — or stay tuned until next week, because surely some more shenanigans will go down in the meantime.

Caitlin Dewey runs The Intersect blog, writing about digital and Internet culture. Before joining the Post, she was an associate online editor at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.
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Caitlin Dewey | May 15