In her lectures to journalism students at QUT, Susan Hetherington often talks about celebrity death hoaxes and how they can suck in unsuspecting journalists desperate to be first at the expense of being correct. Well, a quick search around the internet has found that most of those celebrity death hoaxes (Jeff Goldblum, Charlie Sheen, Owen Wilson, Adam Sandler, Eddie Murphy) started life on the ‘news’ website Global Associated News.
Global Associated News is a fake website that you can generate stories for via fakeawish.com, a website where you can enter a name and create a hoax. For example, have a look at this one I created about star American football quarterback Tim Tebow breaking both his legs in a car accident in Dallas. If I wanted, I (or anyone who happens to stumble across that site) could start spreading that information on Twitter and hey presto! You’ve got your very own hoax. Cue the outpourings of grief and sympathy for the premature end of what has already been an amazing career, the angry dismissals by the man himself, and the embarrassment for media organisations who report this stuff without checking.
Pretty easy after all.