Ready? Here’s what was fake on the Internet this week:
1. Banksy was not arrested in Bristol. This is not the first time that Paul Horner has tricked the Internet into thinking he’s Banksy. This latest hoax, spurred by a (fake) story that Horner wrote for the (fake) news site National Report, was read by nearly 5 million people — and shared more than 3 million times. Of course, as we discovered in a long chat with Horner this week, he’s a would-be comedian in Phoenix … not, you know, an elusive graffiti mastermind with a cult-like following. Incidentally, the real Banksy painted a new mural just this Monday.
2. New York police did not stop and frisk two Muslim men for wearing traditional garments. Some 200,000 viewers were rightly disturbed by a video that surfaced on YouTube over the weekend, purportedly showing an NYPD officer confronting two Muslim men over their clothes. The officer in the video was, however, and actor — and the men in the video were forced to admit, after taking a bit of Internet heat, that the clip was “a dramatization … to raise awareness for Racial Profiling.” Unfortunately, that message seems to have gone right over some commenters’ heads: “These muhammadan seditionists need to be arrested for impersonating a police officer,” raged one popular comment. “[They] are abusing our laws to line their own pockets and to gain more islamic terrorists through their twisted lies.” The lies might be twisted, but they’re just trying to gain YouTube hits, bro.
3. There is no Red Velvet Oreo. Marketing students in San Marcos, Tex., should definitely get an A for this little stunt, wherein they Photoshopped a crimson cookie onto an Oreo package and claimed that Nabisco was launching the new flavor for Valentine’s Day. Nabisco has not, alas, chosen to weigh in on the issue. But a Facebook post on the “Red Velvet Oreo” page two days ago would seem to confirm that this weird novelty — like Butterbeer and Fried Chicken before it! — isn’t actually meant to be.
4. An exploding bong did not take off half a woman’s face. A Facebook PSA about the dangers of marijuana — captioned, scarily, “THIS COULD HAPPEN TO YOU” — claims that a young woman was gruesomely disfigured when her bong exploded. In fact, the woman pictured is an Internet-famous makeup artist dressed up for a zombie bar crawl … and “Christians for Michele Bachman,” the page that posted her picture, is satirical and has nothing to do with the politician. Alas, this has not stopped 21,000 people from sharing the post, and a whopping 49,000 from commenting.
“How did this dumb s*** get on my page?” One man wrote. “It’s an insult that they think we are this stupid. LOST MY VOTE.”
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.