Current Events

Year in Review: Our Top 10 Stories of 2012

Year in Review: Our Top 10 Stories of 2012

As the final hours of 2012 tick away, we decided it was a good time to take a look back at the year as seen through the lens of So today we present to you our Top 10 Stories of 2012, based on our most viewed, searched for, shared, and commented articles. These include hoaxes, scams, and rumors we covered over the past 12 months. So without further delay, let’s revisit the highlights of the past year.

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It should be noted that a few stories from 2011 were still quite popular in 2012, but omitted from the list below because they did not originate in 2012. Interestingly, all of the stories below were reported between May and November.

10. Claire’s “Emo Scars”
Over the summer we caught wind of a rumor, primarily circulating on Twitter, that Claire’s stores were advertising “Emo Scars” – fake tattoos designed to “give you that depressed/cool look without the hassle and pain.” The rumor and shoddy graphic were just a joke gone wrong, and many readers found it to be in bad taste.

9. Giant Snake Found in the Red Sea
In August we spotted a photo of an enormous snake making its rounds on Facebook. A badly-worded story was included in which it was claimed that over 300 tourists and 100 divers were killed by the massive creature. Photos of the snake loaded up on a truck were included as evidence. Further review of those photos made it rather apparent that someone took an ordinary snake and placed it on a toy truck, using tricks of perspective to make the snake look huge. Many were fooled by the low-res images.

8. Man Punching Dog Photo
Even though this story came late in the year, the sheer volume of  traffic it has received over the past 2 months puts it in our top 10 for 2012. The photo allegedly shows a man holding a dog by its neck against a wall while striking a “punching” pose. Details of the story are sketchy, but it is clear that the photo outraged many, including some celebrities who also shared it.

7. Celebrity Death Hoaxes
It seemed as though almost every week there was a new celebrity death hoax in 2012.  Based on our traffic, the most notable of these rumors were Eddie Murphy, Macaulay Culkin, Brazilian football Ronaldinho,  Adam Sandler, Brad Pitt, and Morgan Freeman. Most of these rumors originated from the same website, in which users could simply fill in a name and generate a fake death story – usually about a snowboarding accident.

6. Waka Network Survey Scams
Though most of our Top 10 is dedicated to hoaxes and rumors, there were two major scams in 2012 which made the list. The first of these is the Waka Network scams. This company first caught our attention back in February when they were incessantly calling our readers, offering them Wal-Mart Gift cards for a “processing fee.” By June they had refined their sales pitch, which still included Wal-Mart gift cards. As of this writing, the two articles about Waka Network have generated nearly 1000 angry comments, yet they continue their scam to this day.

5. Corvette Texting Crash Photo
Another summertime story showed a photo of a horrific crash including a Corvette and a truck, along with a story that the carnage was a result of a person who was texting while driving. The story wasn’t true, and the photo was actually of a crash scene from 2005. This has sparked some debate whether it was appropriate to use such a photo, even if it was just for dramatic effect.

4. Target Gift Card Scam
The second scam in our list includes another gift card “giveaway” – this time from Target. This scam has been primarily orchestrated via text messaging. While the text they send out will have you believe that you won a free Target gift card, in reality they want you to sign up for a “rewards” program in which you must sign up for all sorts of unwanted offers in order to receive your “gift.” It’s a complete bait-and-switch scam. The nearly 1500 angry comments say more about this story than our original article could ever hope to convey.

3. Theater Collapses Prior to Showing Controversial Film
In September, there were news reports of an anti-Muslim film on YouTube in the mainstream media. Soon after, a photo emerged on Facebook that showed a collapsed building with a story claiming that a U.S. theater had been destroyed by an earthquake just prior to debuting the film – implying some sort of divine intervention. The story was completely fabricated, and the photo was taken from a 2010 earthquake in Chile. Despite the ease in which we debunked the story, the article became host to a rather heated debate on the subject.

2. Living Barbies
It all began in early May when we took a look at Valeria Lukyanova, who was claimed to be a “Living Barbie” as a result of creative makeup, plastic surgery, and photo editing. Soon after, other “living Barbies” began emerging online and in traditional media. Discussion as to whether or not this was real – or sending a bad message – became the focus. The doll-like models we covered in 2012 were Valeria Lukyanova, Dakota Rose, Venus Palermo, Anastasiya Shpagina, and Wang Jia Yun.

1. “Boy Attacked by Snake as Photographers Watch” photo
We were the first to investigate – and unequivocally debunk – this photo, which supposedly showed a boy being attacked by a snake as photographers looked on without helping. As it turns out, the picture was merely a still photo taken during the filming of a dramatization by the Discovery Channel in 2008. In the dramatization, a girl (not a boy as many assume) is attacked by an African Rock Python. Her friend goes to get help. A man wrestles the snake off of the girl, only to be killed in the attack himself. Months after posting our article, the story continues to be shared online.

So there you have the Top 10 most popular stories on in 2012. We would like to thank all of our readers who have taken the time to comment and share our articles. We hope everyone has a safe, happy, prosperous, and scam-free 2013!

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