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.

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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.”

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.

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.

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