From celebrity death hoaxes to crazy iPhone maintenance tips, we count fifteen internet deceptions!
15 – Mars Will Look as Big as the Moon,
- This strange hoax first surfaced in 2003, and has recurred every year since. It usually comes with the promise that no one alive today has ever seen this phenomenon and that it won’t happen again for hundreds of years.
- On August 27th 2003, Mars did get closer than it had in 50,000 years, but its distance was still 144 times further away than that of Earth’s moon. It wasn’t viewable without a telescope and obviously wasn’t anywhere near the size of our moon.
- When this load of moon cheese comes tumbling through your Facebook feed for the twelfth year running, don’t believe a word.
14 – Richard Gere and the Gerbil,
- This one’s more an urban legend, but, with no evidence to substantiate the claims, it’s unlikely there’s any truth to it. The story goes that several years ago (presumably after 1990’s Pretty Woman) actor Richard Gere was admitted to an LA emergency room with a foreign object lodged in his rectum.
- The object, as you’ve probably guessed, was a gerbil, though reports vary about whether it was dead or alive. This strange sex practice, known on the internet as ‘gerbilling’, is often attributed to gay men, though there’s no evidence linking it to any known culture or subculture. While it’s probable that someone, somewhere has tried this, it’s definitely more made-up gross-out story than genuine pastime.
- Richard Gere is straight-laced and unassuming. He doesn’t court controversy like other, wilder celebrities, so it’s highly unlikely this is true. Maybe if the rumour was about George Michael …
13 – Facebook to Charge Users,
- One of the most persistent serves of bullshit pie. Since 2009, bogus claims that Facebook plans to charge users for even their most basic membership service have had social media junkies trembling the world over.
- The claims regularly come and go without any of the reported changes coming into effect, yet every year users continue to fall for it.
12 – One Millionth Visitor!,
- Congratulations! You’re the one millionth viewer of this video! Please insert a piece of white bread into your disc drive to claim your prize! It’s hard to believe anyone ever fell for this level of blatant bullshittery, but it caused the circulation of a lot of early 2000s adware.
- Other common web lies include users indicating they’ve ‘read all the Terms & Conditions’, and exaggeratory acronyms like laughing out loud. I mean, has anyone in the whole of history actually rolled on the floor laughing?
11 – Dead Celebrity Hoaxes,
- Fake celebrity deaths are your garden variety internet fib. Every month or so, these sorts of rumours spread like a rash across social media. The fake claims usually centre on minor celebrities – often those who’ve retreated from the limelight following past success. This kind of celebrity no longer receives much media attention, so it’s easier to build a convincing death hoax around them.
- Recent hoax targets have included Seinfeld actor Wayne Knight, who famously became dinner for a Dilophosaurus in Jurassic Park. Another was Home Alone star, Macaulay Culkin. Culkin’s emaciated looks gave credence to claims he’d suffered a drug overdose.
- In 2009, Scrubs star Zach Braff reportedly called his mum to assure her that he was very much still alive after an internet rumour had her fearing the worst. ‘No, Ma, still here. It’s those damn internet kids again!’