Last week, the story of 26-year-old mom to be Natasha Hill went viral, appearing on sites from BuzzFeed to CNET to Today, and even earning an SNL spoof. The Los Angeles based Ms. Hill was supposedly chosen from a pool of 80 applicants to be paid $5,000 by the baby-naming site Baby Ballot for letting the Internet choose her child’s name. The list of names was supposed to be chosen by Belly Ballot and several advertisers, and the final names would be voted on in an online poll.
Famously elusive street artist Banksy has not been arrested. His real identity has not been revealed. His name is not Paul William Horner.
But you’d be forgiven for thinking so. Earlier today, outlets like Jezebel, Complex and Death and Taxes published stories saying that Banksy had been arrested by British police. These outlets sourced their reports to a press release that purported to be from the BBC, posted on the press release hub PRLog. (The release has since been removed.) Read More
It is easy to see why those who fell for the Dave on Wheels hoax fell so hard. Followers of “Dave” on sites like Twitter and The Chive thought they were reading posts from a deaf young man suffering from cerebral palsy who had worked tirelessly to overcome his obstacles, all the while maintaining a positive outlook and relatably wry sense of humor.
“Dave’s” was a genuine feel-good story, a buoyant narrative that rose above the internet’s impulse toward apathy, irony and just plain hate. His disarming personality and refusal to be held back by his physical limitations made people feel closer to him. I’m just like you, he always said. Despite my disability, I’m just like you.
But after “Dave” suddenly passed away from pneumonia following a meteoric rise to fame–including a supportive tweet from Kim Kardashian–a website emerged called Dave on Wheels Exposed, revealing that the entire thing had been a sham to “Dave’s” thousands of loyal fans. The site was started by a Canadian beauty vlogger named Kristi-Anne Beil, whose friend had been close with “Dave.”
In the aftermath of the hoax, as former friends of “Dave” struggle to unearth who was really behind the Dave on Wheels persona, one aspect of the controversy seems to have been glossed over. Who is the real “Dave on Wheels,” the actual person in the pictures that the hoaxster used to wrangle sympathy and attention? Read More
Anatomy of a Hoax: How an Anonymous Blogger Tricked the Internet Into Believing He Was a Deaf Quadriplegic
If there’s anything we’ve learned from the Violentacrez scandal, it’s that anonymity on the Internet can be easily unmasked–for better or for worse. In the case of quadriplegic Internet sensation Dave on Wheels, it was for the worse. This is the story of how an anonymous blogger tricked the Internet into believing that he was a deaf, wheelchair-bound cerebral palsy sufferer using a special computer to communicate with his thousands of online fans.
David Rose was a 24-year-old Orange County resident who kept a blog, Facebook and Twitter account where he posted inspiring and wry missives about his life and battle with illness. (All of these accounts have since been deleted.) He had communicated with hundreds of online strangers as far back as 2007, when he first registered his Facebook profile. Read More
Yesterday morning, music news outlets across the Internet began reporting that human Girl Talk game Justin Bieber had his laptop and camera stolen at a concert in Washington state. On Wednesday, the Biebs tweeted out to his 29 million followers that his stuff had been ganked from the Tacoma Dome. “yesterday during the show me and my tour manager josh had some stuff stolen. really sucks. people should respect other’s property,” he lamented. “i had a lot of personal footage on that computer and camera and that is what bothers me the most. #lame #norespect” Read More
Early this morning, a pro-WikiLeaks op-ed purporting to be penned by former New York Times executive editor Bill Keller cropped up online. It was a stunningly convincing piece of web fraud, its design practically identical to the New York Times‘s own homepage, with every link leading to an actual Times article or section. The only hint that it wasn’t real was the URL: instead of showing as nytimes.com/pages/opinion, it read “opinion-nytimes.com.” It’s a tiny difference, but a monumentally important one.
The article itself, which staunchly defends WikiLeaks and the importance of qualifying it under the First Amendment, is certainly stylistically similar to the real writings of Mr. Keller. Some of the wording is rather clunky, but that seems to lend the piece the impression that its message was so dire that it was written in an emotional hurry. The faux article tries so hard to be convincing that it even borrows wording from an email Mr. Keller wrote recently to GigaOm about WikiLeaks. Read More
We all got punked.
WhoDat.biz, the silly site claiming to be Kanye West’s newest startup, is not in fact affiliated with the rapper. Everyone from The Washington Post to Ars Technica to BuzzFeed to our very own Betabeat got swept up in the WhoDat madness–which is probably exactly what the unknown architects behind WhoDat wanted. Read More