Broken Legs Hoax

Have you read that one of your favorite athletes or celebrities has suffered two broken legs in a car accident? More than likely, this report is a hoax. A December 2014 report about Cam Newton being injured in a car accident has led some readers searching for information on his condition to find the old "broken legs" hoax in search results.

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Fake News

The website Media Fetcher allows users to enter a celebrity’s name, and a fake story will be generated under the name “Global Associated News.” These automatically-generated fake news stories have been the catalyst for many celebrity death and injury hoaxes over the past two years.

A common “news” item produced by “Global Associated News” is that of an athlete who has broken both legs in a car accident. Consider:

In early 2013, we wrote of a hoax involving Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews. The hoax read:

“A spokesperson for the Wisconsin highway safety authority (HSA) has confirmed that Clay Matthews has broken both of his legs in a traffic altercation, one of the phony websites reads. “He has been transported via ambulance to a local Wisconsin hospital for treatment, and the full extent of his injuries are not known at this time, however, both of his legs were visibly broken and not life threatening according to sources.”

We also published a story of an identical story circulating about Cam Newton. Only the name and location changed. That hoax read:

“A spokesperson for the Carolina highway safety authority (HSA) has confirmed that Cam Newton has broken both of his legs in a traffic altercation. He has been transported via ambulance to a local Carolina hospital for treatment, and the full extent of his injuries are not known at this time, however, both of his legs were visibly broken and not life threatening according to sources.”

Cam Newton Injured: December 2014

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We should note here that in a case of reality mirroring fiction, Cam Newton was apparently injured in a car wreck in December 2014, as reported by the Charlotte Observer. While the Observer noted that Newton was “injured,” it did not elaborate on the extent of his injuries. There were no reports of broken legs.

Some readers who have searched for information about Newton’s condition have encountered this page, or the original broken legs hoax story.

Media Fetcher

Media Fetcher freely admits to the fake articles, with a small disclaimer at the bottom of these stories, which reads:

“About this web site. FAKE… THIS STORY IS 100% FAKE! this is an entertainment website, and this is a totally fake article based on zero truth and is a complete work of fiction for entertainment purposes! this story was dynamically generated using a generic ‘template’ and is not factual. Any reference to specific individuals has been 100% fabricated by web site visitors who have created fake stories by entering a name into a blank ‘non-specific’ template for the purpose of entertainment. For sub-domain info, name removal requests and additional use restrictions: FakeAWish.com

Variants

We have seen this same rumor attached to a number of celebrities, such as:

This generic graphic often accompanies the fake broken leg "news" articles.

This generic graphic often accompanies the fake broken leg “news” articles.

  • Tom Brady
  • Drew Brees
  • Jay Cutler
  • Colin Kaepernick
  • Ray Lewis
  • Peyton Manning
  • Ben Roethlisberger
  • Tony Romo
  • Michael Vick

 

In some cases, celebrities have even issued statements debunking rumors of their alleged injuries. Media Fetcher is also responsible for the “snowboarding accident” death hoaxes often reported about Adam Sandler or Eddie Murphy.

Bottom Line

If you see a rumor that your favorite celebrity or athlete has broken his or her legs, check the source. If it came from Media Fetcher, aka “Global Associated News,” then the story is nothing but a hoax.

A real accident involving Cam Newton in December 2014 has been reported with similar details as the fake Media Fetcher story – minus the detail about broken legs.

Have you seen the “broken legs” hoax attached to one of your favorite celebrities or athletes? Let us know when and where in the comments below.

Updated December 9, 2014
Originally published August 2013

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