1. Leonardo Dicaprio was not raped by a bear. Many violent and disturbing things apparently happen in “The Revenant,” Dicaprio’s latest movie, but bear rape is not among them. Thankfully! The rumors began after Drudge Report, a popular news aggregator, claimed that screening audiences were scandalized by the “explicit mauling.” (Drudge appears to have sourced/misread that from a blog post on the site Showbiz 411, where Roger Friedman describes the attack scene as a “molestation.”) In either case, both movie-goers and Fox say the bear rape never happened: “As anyone who has seen the movie can attest, the bear in the film is a female who attacks Hugh Glass because she feels he might be threatening her cubs,” the company told Entertainment Weekly in a statement. Another fun day on the Internet!
2. A man named “Tayyeep Bin Ardogan” was not among the San Bernardino shooters. In the chaotic wake of Wednesday’s mass shooting in San Bernardino, a Georgia-based blogger and boutique-owner named Anne Miller-Hyatt tweeted that police had named a new suspect, Tayyeep Bin Ardogan, on a police radio channel that’s accessible online.
Because audio from the channel is not publicly archived, it’s impossible to confirm whether Miller-Hyatt misinterpreted scanner chatter, misheard the name, or invented it entirely. Police have, however, vehemently denied ever naming this suspect — whose name, we should point out, is a nonsense mishmash of Turkish and Arabic. That did not prevent it from seeping into numerous media reports and horrifying pretty much every person on Twitter who speaks Turkish and/or Arabic.
3. Mark Zuckerberg is not giving millions of dollars away to Facebook users who repost a chain message. In the latest iteration of ye olde Facebook repost scam — remember the copyright hoax?! — thousands of users have shared a message that claims Zuck will give $4.5 million away to 1,000 lucky people.
Of course, $4.5 million x 1,000 = $4.5 billion*, an amount strangely similar to that Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chan announced they would contribute to a philanthropic LLC on Dec. 1. While there is still a whole lot of confusion as to where that money’s going, it’s definitely not being handed out at random. (*Yep, there was initially a math error here. Apologies — it’s been fixed!)
4. The NBC show “Blacklist” did not predict the Paris attacks. Conspiracy theorists have begun passing around a clip from the Oct. 1 premiere of “Blacklist,” claiming that it warns about a “false flag” attack in Paris and proves the brutal Nov. 13 attacks were not legit. As with all such theories, however, this one makes precious little sense. In the scene in question — where an FBI informant, played by James Spader, discusses the possibility of using social media to fake a terrorist attack — the “false flag” operatives aren’t shady governments or the “New World Order,” but ordinary criminals who hope to commit crimes like art heists while police are distracted.
And while NBC didn’t respond to a request for comment, we feel pretty confident that show-writer Jon Bokenkamp (who lives in Nebraska, c’mon) is not waging some secretive, subliminal war against government propaganda. He recently told the Wall Street Journal that his plot lines were inspired by “real-life news stories, a great room of writers and strange dreams.”
5. An Atlanta man did not die after attempting to gold-plate his own testicles. For reasons unbeknownst to us, versions of this particular urban legend have been circling the Web since at least June: In the original “Linkbeef” version, the man in question was a 17-year-old gang member in California; in mid-November, he was a lottery-winning Canadian; in the latest iteration, attributable to fake-news farm Now8News, he’s a down-on-his-luck Georgian who gold-plates his package after winning $100 million.
The Intersect could not find a single report — anywhere, ever — of a man undergoing such a procedure; in fact, the closest thing we could find was an account of the hedge-fund manager David Tepper, who reportedly keeps a pair of brass balls on his desk. Those, however, are replicas, which is undoubtedly for the best: while we can’t speak to brass, gold-plating frequently involves some kind of cyanide solution.
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.
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