Hoaxes & Rumors

Fake This Week: 1970 iPhone Prank, Scalia Quote, HIV Bananas

Fake This Week: 1970 iPhone Prank, Scalia Quote, HIV Bananas

A roundup of the most popular fake stories online this week. And hopefully you are able to read this from an iPhone that wasn’t set to 1970.

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What was fake this week

Setting your iPhone to 1970 will brick your phone. A meme circulated which claimed that setting your iPhone to January 1, 1970 would unlock a secret theme. There is no secret theme, and this graphic was actually just a sly prank to fool Apple users into ruining their phones. Setting your device to that date may irreparably damage your phone, apparently to the delight of 4chan users who are said to have created the sinister graphic.

Debate about a Scalia death penalty quote. Only hours after Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died, a quote circulated which seemed to imply that the judge felt it was fine to execute the innocent. “Mere factual innocence is no reason not to carry out a death sentence properly reached,” the quote reads. As LawReader pointed out back in 2008, this is a misquote from the 1993 Herrera v. Collins case, and is taken out of context. Scalia’s actual words were, “There is no basis in text, tradition, or even in contemporary practice (if that were enough), for finding in the Constitution a right to demand judicial consideration of newly discovered evidence of innocence brought forward after conviction.”

HIV-laced bananas are not pouring into the United States. This is a new spin on an older story which claimed HIV-laced oranges were being imported from Libya. This version started as a Facebook post showing bananas with red material inside, and the assumption by the person posting it that she was seeing blood. The CDC has said that HIV can’t be spread via food, and Del Monte confirmed that the red portion of bananas is a process called mokilla, caused by bacteria.

Obama didn’t nominate an abortion doctor to replace Scalia. Fake news sites love to jump on a hot story, and infuse it with controversial flavors. In this case, the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was the subject of a fake news story by The Daily Currant which claimed President Obama decided to appoint an abortion doctor to fill the empty slot. Even the generic stock photo of a doctor didn’t cause some readers to take pause before sharing the bogus story.

And another thing

A few other issues of fakery online this week:

  • Beyonce wasn’t banned from Canada after her Super Bowl halftime performance. That story was the work of a fake news site.
  • Beware of a Microsoft Outlook “Account Exceeded Storage Limit” email. It’s a phishing scam.
  • Women aren’t paid less because they are smaller than men. That story is the product of The Daily Mash, another “satirical” site.
  • A man wasn’t ejected from a buffet after consuming 50 pounds of food. That was posted by yet another satire (aka fake news) website.

What fake stories did you see online this week?

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