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. The Nobel Committee doesn’t “regret” giving President Obama the Peace Prize. According to an invented “news release” uploaded to Scribd by the prominent blogger and anti-war activist David Swanson, the Nobel Institute can’t retract Obama’s 2009 Peace Prize — but wishes it could. “It remains the obligation of the Committee to disassociate itself from actions taken by laureates that frustrate rather than advancing [sic] the fraternity between nations,” the statement reads. (Pro-tip: International organizations rarely make glaring grammatical errors in major statements.) “The Committee therefore joins with the public statements of several Nobel Peace Laureates in expressing its regrets over the conduct of the 2009 prize recipient.” The announcement has since been picked up by a number of right-wing outlets, including Before It’s News. The only problem, of course: It isn’t true.
Dear Internet: The Nobel committee ″regrets” giving Obama the 2009 peace prize story is bogus. I just spoke with the head of the institute— David Jolly (@davjolly) September 12, 2014
2. There is no-such thing as a “pumpkin-spice-flavored condom.” Though considering the social media response to the idea, some enterprising company may want to give it a try. A Photoshopped image of the “limited edition” Durex condom circulated widely on Twitter and Facebook last week before a punny statement from Durex punctured the hoax: “We can’t claim this one,” the company said, “but we do love it when people spice it up in the bedroom.” Har har. In unrelated pumpkin-spice news, the limited-edition Oreos of the flavor are apparently quite real.
We’ve officially reached Pumpkin Spice saturation point. pic.twitter.com/Tve77ov5JZ— gwendolyn richards (@gwendolynmr) September 7, 2014
3. No one expects “record-shattering snowfall” this year. That claim — like so many others! — comes from the unfunny “satirists” at EmpireNews.net, increasingly our least favorite fake-news site in a generally unfavorable field. According to the story and its accompanying map, meteorologists have expected “above normal snowfall” in huge swaths of the United States, including the entire mid-Atlantic coast. Like everything else on Empire News, of course, the map is fake. Moreover, it’s so difficult to predict seasonal weather patterns that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration doesn’t bust theirs out until November, and the Climate Prediction Center in College Park, Md., told the Baltimore Sun they have virtually no idea what the snow will look like three long months from now.
#InOtherNews I just read a report that a meteorologist said we will be having ″record shattering snowfall” this winter. Lord Jesus.— (tee-durl), M.A. (@TheTDExperience) September 8, 2014
4. “Male birth control” will probably not be here by 2017. A number of outlets gleefully proclaimed the news that a “male birth control” injection, called Vasalgel, would be hitting the world’s bedrooms within three years. Alas, that would seem to suggest that Vasalgel has been proven to work in humans, or that it’s already been approved by the Food and Drug Administration — and neither of those things are true. “The news came from a press release — and call for donations! — by the foundation behind Vasalgel,” Julia Belluz explained at Vox, “highlighting some promising (though again, unpublished, anecdotal findings) from testing on baboons.” Bottom line: It’s great that someone’s working on male birth control, but it’s highly unlikely this particular product will reach the U.S. market by 2017.
5. There was not a shooting at a California Marine Corps base. An anonymous Facebook page sparked all-out panic at a base north of San Diego on Thursday night when it posted that a shooter was active at the military installation and that “ALL MARINES HAVE BEEN INSTRUCTED TO LOCK THEMSELVES INSIDE OF THEIR ROOMS.” The page then stupidly followed that prank post up with a number of “updates” on the situation, which were liked and shared hundreds of times. Base police told Business Insider there was no evidence at all of a shooting: People “saw if on social media networks and then they started telling their friends,” one dispatcher said. “It’s all rumor, it’s all hearsay.”
Possible shooter in Camp Pendleton!? Anybody hear anything??— &rew (@AndrewGarrettt) September 12, 2014
6. Shakira is not dead. The singer’s hips don’t lie, but the Internet does. Constantly. A hoax e-mail bearing the logo of Mexican newspaper El Universal claimed that Shakira died in a car accident in Colombia last week, and that an attached Word document contained “exclusive images and details” from the scene. Colombia’s Informador reports that the e-mail may actually have contained a virus or phishing scam. As for Shakira, she’s alive and well and expecting her second child with boyfriend Gerard Pique.
7. British Muslims are not trying to outlaw a beloved children’s TV show. A comedian going by the name Zayn Sheikh outraged many Brits (and fooled a number of news outlets, British and otherwise) with a YouTube video that demanded the TV show “Peppa Pig” go off air and suggested a national campaign would soon organize for that purpose. Peppa Pig is a beloved, alliterative British cartoon character — and also “haram,” or forbidden to Muslims, Sheikh claimed. Over the weekend, Sheikh posted a second video admitting the whole thing was a hoax — but a hoax for a cause. “This video served to show how much Islamophobia is around, for those who deny its existence,” he wrote. “It is sad to live in a society where some feel that Muslims have no rights to talk at all.”
8. Obama will not “resign amid new Benghazi revelations.” Every word of this headline is a dream come true to some of the president’s more conspiracy-minded opponents, which perhaps explains why the fake article, from fake-article-generator National Report, went viral in those circles. As of this writing, it’s been shared more than 60,000 times on Facebook. Even Donald Trump seems to have fallen for the “joke”!
If Obama resigns from office NOW, thereby doing a great service to the country—I will give him free lifetime golf at any one of my courses!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 10, 2014
(Just kidding, that tweet is related to another matter entirely.)
9. Cocaine has not been found in Coors Light beer. Since this is the second widespread cocaine-in-a-beverage hoax in as many weeks, let’s get a few things straight about the alleged phenomenon. First up: This hoax seems to do well because it has some remote, and long ago, bases in fact. (Cocaine-laced sodas and beverages were very popular in ye olden days, around the time of the Civil War.) It also helps that remote traces of coca have been found, at some point in time, in various popular beverages, including Red Bull. That said, no cocaine expose published on a site called Huzlers.com is ever going to be real. Ever. How have 286,000 people shared this stupid thing?
10. The ruins of an ancient city were not discovered in the Australian desert. Perhaps the most incredible thing about this faux-story from World News Daily Report — besides the number of times people have reposted it to Facebook — is the amazingly credulous conversation readers are having in the comments section below it. “I thought the climate in central Australia had been arid for over 30,000 years,” one commenter wrote. “30,000 people living in the desert? That would require agriculture and irrigation … That’s just incredible!” Indeed.
Did we miss any other notable fake stuff this week? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org — or stay tuned until next week, because surely some more shenanigans will go down in the meantime.