Hoaxes & Rumors

Fake This Week: Bill Murray for President, Trump’s VP

Fake This Week: Bill Murray for President, Trump’s VP

For the truly lazy internet reader we’ve compiled a quick look at some of the top fake stories floating around social media this week.

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The Best of What Was Fake This Week

Bill Murray isn’t running for President. For those who haven’t had their fill of wacky statements by the current field of presidential candidates, a rumor circulated that none other than What About Bob himself Bill Murray was throwing his hat into the ring. “From his home in Charleston, South Carolina, legendary actor, comedian, and writer, 65-year-old Bill Murray, shocked the country today by announcing that he will be running for President in 2016,” the “news” story said. Many didn’t examine the source closely enough, however, which was faux-news site News Examiner. That site exists to dupe readers with fake news stories like this one. Apparently it worked, as the Murray “announcement” saw heavily circulating in late January.

There is no Teletubby Lake. As much as 90’s babies would like to believe, a graphic featuring a lake that keenly resembles one of the Teletubbies characters is not real. That photo was simply an entry in a graphic arts contest on the website Worth1000 way back in 2003. The source photo was taken from a Getty Images snap of Mt. Pinatubo from 2001. Worth1000 photos are known to be circulated with fake captions, such as the World’s Smallest Cat, Golden Snake, and President Pimp.

Men in Eritrea aren’t required to marry at least two women. In what the BBC referred to as a “far-fetched story” we were led to believe that a shortage of men in the East African country of Eritrea resulted in the passage of laws requiring all men to take at least two wives. The official-looking document which started the hoax stated, “Due to the recent troubles in our country, we are experiencing a serious shortage of men, and an abundance of woman. Men are now legally required to take at least two wives, and any that fail to do so will face strict punishment.”

Despite the wishful thinking of some men packing their bags for Eritrea, polygamy is illegal in the country and government officials have confirmed that the story was fabricated. The same hoax has hit several other countries in recent years.

eritrea hoax

Trump’s dad didn’t ride with Mao Zedong. A black and white photo of Mao Zedong appeared on Reddit with the caption that The Donald’s own father was caught posing with Chairman Mao in 1964. “Donald Trump’s father in photo with Mao Zedong circa 1964,” the caption read. When one of the men in the photo died back in 2010, China Daily identified the individuals in the picture – which was taken in 1945, not 1964. Not surprisingly, Fred Trump was nowhere to be found.

mao zedong 1945

Don’t expect any lifetime fast food passes. Facebook lit up with shared posts by hungry social media users salivating for promised lifetime passes from a variety of fast food chains. All of the major outlets were represented, including Burger King, KFC, Taco Bell, and Wendy’s. One variety suggested it was offered as part of McDonald’s 61st anniversary. Would they even celebrate that?

The fake posts suggested that diligent readers who shared the link would make them eligible for lifetime passes to fast food chains (does such a thing even exist?). Those who shared the post quickly found themselves entrenched in endless clicking to find the pot of gold which would never materialize. What they did find was a typical Facebook survey scam. These scams require you to share the post, further promulgating the BS. You’ll then have to take a survey before being asked to provide your contact info so annoying telemarketers can further hound you. Some versions also act as a facade to “rewards programs” which require you to meet a number of almost impossible requirements in order to receive a prize. And for those who manage to maneuver to the finish line, they still won’t find a lifetime pass for fast food.

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Trump didn’t announce his running mate. Perhaps hoping to get a jump on fake election news, low-brow fake news site News Examiner once again hit paydirt with a bogus story that Donald Trump had already announced his running mate, choosing Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio to be his VP. “On Tuesday, Sheriff Joe Arpaio officially endorsed Donald Trump for president. Early this morning, Trump shocked the country by announcing Arpaio as his pick for Vice Presidential running mate in 2016,” the story read. The fake article elicited knee-jerk sharing by both pro and anti-Trump readers.

No disability for lefties. A “humorous” article from early 2015 suddenly surged in sharing, in which we read that left-handed people would be eligible for disability benefits. The article entitled, “Left-Handed People Now Eligible for Disability” trended on social media, apparently split between those who realized it was a joke and those who weren’t quite sure. “…people suffering from severe cases of left-handedness may be eligible to receive social security benefits,” the article read. The post can be traced back to “satire” website Mouthwire, which admits that its content is fake.

Leslie Nielsen and Joe Cocker didn’t die again. News that Naked Gun star Leslie Nielsen had died shocked some Twitter readers. Others were surprised to hear that Joe Cocker had passed. For most fans, however, they’ve known for years that Nielsen died back in 2010, and Cocker passed in 2014. In what has become a growing trend on social media, “news” of a celebrity’s death is recirculated years after the fact.

What fake stories did you see online this week? Let us know and we may update this page, or include it in next week’s saga.

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Hoaxes & Rumors

James White specializes in internet hoaxes, travel, product reviews, and social media.

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