There is so much fake stuff on the Internet in any given week that we’ve grown tired of debunking it all. Fake Twitter fights. Fake pumpkin-spice products. 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. Mars will not appear as big as the moon on Aug. 27 (… or any day ever). In the latest iteration of a chain e-mail hoax that’s been plaguing the Web since at least 2002, many a frenzied Facebook user shared a message this week claiming that — for one night only! — Mars would appear as clear and as large as the moon. This should already sound implausible to anyone who’s taken a ninth-grade science class: The moon is 240,000 miles away from Earth; Mars, even at the nearest part of its orbit, is more like 34 million miles away. (Here is a helpful diagram that shows what the two look like from those distances.)
Incidentally, we wouldn’t want it to get any closer, either: As NASA warned in 2005, during another iteration of this dumb rumor, “if Mars did come close enough to rival the Moon, its gravity would alter Earth’s orbit.”
2. The lamestream media did not “cover up” the racially motivated mass murder of nine white office workers. According to a new strain of memery popular with the #AllLivesMatter crowd, the national media has been suspiciously silent on the case of Omar Thornton, a black delivery driver who shot nine white co-workers at the Manchester, Conn., beer distributor where he worked. Presumably, this silence is a sign of the media’s anti-white racial bias. In reality, it’s a sign that the Hartford Distributors shooting happened five years ago, in 2010 — so we’ve stopped talking about it!
The case was actually widely covered at the time: Here are stories from the Associated Press, the New York Times, USA Today and CNN. (Also, w/r/t the whole “media bias against white people” thing, research and history shows it’s quite the opposite.)
3. North Koreans are not on Tinder. One of the more hilarious parts of Tinder’s lengthy public meltdown Tuesday was the credulous assertion that the hook-up app was somehow revolutionizing romance in North Korea, a notoriously closed and isolated state. How, the good people of Twitter wondered, does a country without access to the global Internet find time to online date?
Welllll … they probably don’t, as Vox’s Max Fisher explained Aug. 12. For one thing, North Koreans aren’t allowed to have foreign smartphones. And the state-produced Android smartphone that the country does allow can’t run Tinder. The mix-up seems to come from one of two places: 1) Foreigners visiting North Korea could be running the app, apparently just to meet each other, and/or 2) foreigners abroad could falsely list North Korea as their location using Tinder’s “passport” feature.
4. Macy’s didn’t refuse to hire an applicant because she had served in Afghanistan. An old and long-debunked Instagram rumor was resurrected late last week when the Facebook page of Joe the Plumber posted it with the prompt to “share if you have more respect for our vets than Macy’s does.” (More than 330,000 people shared.) According to Army Specialist Kayla Reeves, who originally posted her story to Instagram in February 2014, a Macy’s manager told the 21-year-old during an interview that she wouldn’t know how to “approach people” or deal with difficult customers because she’d served overseas. At the time, Reeves believed her service had cost her the job.
That doesn’t seem to be the full story, though. In later statements to local news outlets and on its Facebook page, Macy’s claimed to have offered Reeves a job, which she didn’t take. That doesn’t mean a store manager didn’t make inappropriate statements during her interview, of course — but it would seem to indicate that the outrage is a little overblown.
5. A mother is not suing Netflix because her daughter got pregnant on a “Netflix and chill” date. First, a definition: “Netflix and chill” is basically teen-speak for sex. Over the course of the past three months, the phrase has achieved full-blown meme status. And the pranksters at Huzlers.com, never ones to miss out on a trend, published a fake news story this week claiming a St. Louis woman sued the streaming video service after her daughter had sex and got pregnant while watching it. (Quote: “It’s like Netflix intentionally makes their movies boring so that one can fall into this trap.”)
The story, like everything on Huzlers, is fake; that hasn’t stopped nearly 400,000 people from liking and sharing it. If nothing else, one hopes it will acquaint more parents with the meaning of “Netflix and chill” — if your kid says that’s what he or she is up to, you might wanna pay attention.
Did we miss any other notable fake stuff this week? E-mail email@example.com — or stay tuned until next week, because surely some more shenanigans will go down in the meantime.
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