What was fake on the Internet this week: Ryan Gosling, ‘Ghostface Lieberman’ and ‘I Am Sushi’


Non-father Ryan Gosling at the Cannes Film Festival in May. (Yves Herman/Reuters)

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. Ryan Gosling did not adopt a baby. But almost 1 million Facebook fans fell for a Father’s Day message from an unverified Gosling account, which said — among other things! — that Gosling had briefly adopted the nine-month-old son of a deceased friend. The post also urged fans to purchase a $22.50 charity T-shirt from the site TeeSpring.com … which at least 41 people did. Hey girl, do your research next time: The so-called charity, the Orphanage Home Foundation, doesn’t exist, and the bizarre adoption scenario described in “Gosling’s” post isn’t legally possible.

2. Nobody wants to #EndFathersDay. That bewildering hashtag trended on Twitter on Sunday, propagated — apparently! — by a group of man-hating feminists eager to seize June 15 back from the patriarchy. In actuality, this particular trend was orchestrated by the message board 4chan — just like bikini bridge, #whitewomencantberaped, and a string of other overtly anti-feminist hoaxes before it. 4chan’s penchant for mischief is legendary, especially where women are concerned. Unfortunately, that reputation doesn’t stop major media outlets from falling for the fake accounts and forced hashtags every time they roll out. “They’re not just interested in ending Father’s Day,” Princeton mom Susan Patton told Fox News over the weekend, “They’re interested in ending men.” (Which is, of course, exactly the kind of controversy 4chan wants to stir up.)

3. A California dad did not name his twins “Raekwon” and “Ghostface” Lieberman. Dan Lieberman did, however, fill out a birth-certificate worksheet for his newborn sons that way … and then post a photo of it to Twitter, where it later caught the attention of Raekwon himself. Lieberman, a serious Wu Tang fan, later admitted the whole thing was a joke. “For those who thought they we actually named our sons after Ghost and Rae, I hope that, rather than feeling tricked, that they can share in a small bit of the joy I feel today,” he wrote in a letter to Heeb magazine. He also asked the hip-hop media to return “to bigger questions, like whether Jay-Z runs the Illuminati, when that Ghostface/DOOM collaboration is coming out, and what America is without greed and glamour.”

4. The drinking age is not changing to 25 in August. You can thank the hoax site Sunday Times Daily for this panic-inducing gem, which has been viewed more than 5.6 million times. It’s unclear how the prank spread so far, given the terrible quality of the faux-article and the fact that the “Times” displays a “we were joking” message after a few seconds on the page. Nevertheless, the drinking age prank is making quite an impression on America’s would-be drinkers.

5. Drones are not delivering pizza in Mumbai. A video of the delivery-by-drone went viral in both hemispheres last month, sparking a police inquiry into the issue. Mumbai police just released their findings: “neither did the drone fly from the outlet to the customer, nor was any pizza delivered … the video clip posted on websites was made by taking different video clips, editing them, and fusing them together to make it appear that the drone had actually flown and delivered the pizza.” Bummer.

6. Iraqis are not uniting over “sushi.” This viral image, purportedly snapped in response to the sectarian warfare tearing through Iraq, appears to date from at least October, before the current spate of ISIS-fueled violence. (Although not, of course, before long-standing sectarian tensions in Iraq.) Equally problematic is the fact that the photo has been edited: Early versions of the picture posted on Iranian websites show her holding a sign that says “We Are Muslims.” Same sentiment, maybe, but not quite as cute.

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 · June 19