Internet hoaxes: don’t be fooled

Stories about Bigfoot and the Loch Ness monster are probably what come to mind when you think of a hoax. But these days, most hoaxes are played out online. Remember the fake video showing a bird pooping on Vladimir Putin? Yep, that was a hoax.

Here are some cautionary tales about online hoaxes and how not to get duped by them.

Tip #1: Check the source.

Keep in mind where the video is coming from. If the video is coming from a random channel or website it might seem pretty real, right? Like a normal, everyday person made it? But in many cases the channels aren’t real and are held by big corporations. If you look at the channel and there’s only one video and it has a comment stating “could be a prank,” there is definitely a chance that it is just that.

For example, earlier last month a video was released on an unknown YouTube channel that had no other videos. It showed an angry Dennis Quaid on set yelling at a crew member who had apparently gotten in his shot when he was acting. The video took over the Internet because Quaid is usually seen as a laidback Hollywood father, known for being our favorite movie dad in The Parent Trap. It showed him ranting at his crew, and he used more than a few profanities. It left viewers ultimately confused, unsure how someone who was seen as a family man could go off on an angry tangent.

Actor Dennis Quaid. Photo from Creative Commons.
Actor Dennis Quaid. Photo from Creative Commons.

In this case it was hard to tell whether this was a joke or not.

Confused YouTube commenters jumped to the conclusion that it had to be a prank, pointing fingers to Jimmy Kimmel who has dabbled in online pranks.

After the video was talked about everywhere – from websites to the news to talk shows saying that Quaid could be the next Christian Bale – it turned out that the video was made by “Funny or Die,” a popular prank website.

They released a video on their website showing Dennis actually talking to their cameras, proving that his meltdown was a practical joke.

This isn’t the first time an Internet hoax has taken over the Internet.

Back in late 2013, a video was posted online of a young lady up against a door twerking (which was the biggest dance craze at the time). When her friend opened the door, she was twerking against and fell on a glass table where there was a lit candle. The candle ignited her yoga pants, which was followed with screaming and shouting.

The video went viral and was shared all over social media: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest etc. It was a video everyone saw and found absolutely ridiculous.

Tip #2: If it looks impossible, it probably is.

This video was a massive sensation and no one expected it to be a practical joke. But you need to watch carefully to observe how everything happened and decide if it was plausible without them getting hurt.

Eventually, as the video grew and grew, people wanted to know who this girl was. Jimmy Kimmel invited her on his show where he revealed that Kimmel himself planned it and made the video. He showed a second half to the video where it revealed him running into the room with a fire extinguisher. He created the video to make it go viral and show that the Internet has too much power over the youth of this generation.

Tip #3: Don’t believe everything you hear.

When The Eye staff played an April Fools joke last month and told students that President Obama was on campus that day, many believed them. It’s possible, but is it probable?

At the end of the day, you need to watch all videos with a critical eye. Otherwise that fool you’re watching on the screen could secretly be laughing at you for being the fool who fell for their hoax.

Author: Rosie Hogan

Rosie Hogan is a senior and one of the co editors of The Eye. Rosie has lived in Singapore for the majority of her life but goes back home to the states for her summers. When she’s not busy writing you can find her eating grilled cheese sandwiches, jamming out to Taylor Swift and watching Criminal Minds. She can be contacted at hogan33482@sas.edu.sg.

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