Five times the Internet fooled the world

Internet hoax

The Internet may be a smorgasbord of interesting facts but you should know by now that you cannot believe everything you read on the Web. Sometimes people are out to fool the world and have a laugh at our expense.

Here are five examples of when the Internet took the world for a ride:

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

The Blair Witch Project is a 1990s horror film that centers around three student filmmakers. They go on a hike in the woods of Maryland to film a documentary about a local legend known as the Blair Witch and subsequently get lost. It was marketed as being based on real events that occurred and consisted entirely out of found (or recovered) footage.

It is said to be the first widely-released film to be marketed entirely via the Internet and was the most successful indie film of all time. A website for the film (which can still be viewed here) was set up featuring faked police reports and interviews from local news crews in Maryland about the disappearance of the students. During screenings of the film flyers were handed out asking for help to locate the three “missing” students, and the prestigious movie website IMDB listed all three of them as “presumed dead” for about a year after the film’s release.

The Internet was relatively new back in 1999 and this is perhaps why it was so easy to fool the world into thinking that this film was truly based on real-life events. When the people who supposedly went missing in the film were outed as actors a lot of people were furious at being duped. The actors filmed the story themselves with handheld cameras and a script. In the end it was a fun and scary ride for those who were watching it, believing that it was real, and it may prove that sometimes ignorance can be bliss.

Lonelygirl15 (2006)

In June 2006 a 16-year-old video blogger, who went by the online name of Lonelygirl15, started posting YouTube videos. This young vlogger would chat to a webcam about her daily life as a typical teenage girl whilst sitting in her bedroom. She quickly gained a following on the Internet. As time went by, her video content took a more sinister turn. She started documenting the secret occult practices within her family and the mysterious disappearance of her parents. The vlogs would later show Lonelygirl15 and her friends being hunted by an evil organization called “The Order”.

Viewers of Lonelygirl15’s channel soon started to point out inconsistencies in her videos and speculated in comments about the true nature of Lonelygirl15. Eventually, with the help of the investigatory skills of viewers and news outlets, it was discovered that it was all an elaborate hoax as part of an online web series.

Lonelygirl15 was the brainchild of Mesh Flinders, Miles Beckett and Greg Goodfried. Lonelygirl15 was actually an American-New Zealand actress called Jessica Rose who was hired by the creators. The vlogs were all part of a scripted online show called LG15, and after its discovery as a hoax the series still continued to run until August 2008. The series finale showed Lonelygirl15 being killed off by “The Order”, confirming that a second season was not on the cards. Two spin-off series of LG15, called N1ckola and KateModern, were later produced.

Watch the whole LG15 series here: https://www.youtube.com/user/lonelygirl15

How to charge an iPod with an onion (2007)

On 10 November 2007 the HouseholdHacker YouTube channel uploaded a video demonstrating how one can charge an iPod using a normal white onion and Gatorade (a sports energy drink). The video was a huge success and received millions of views, of which about 4 million occurred in the first week alone.

The video fooled even the most savvy of viewers and prompted high-profile websites and shows (like ABC News and Mythbusters) to test whether this was indeed possible, but no-one could replicate it. Of course, the video’s content was later outed as being a hoax but we’re guessing there are a lot of people out there whose phone chargers still smell like onions and Gatorade to this day.

Watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GfPJeDssBOM

Worst Twerk Fail EVER – Girl Catches Fire! (2013)

Fail videos are everywhere on the Internet and they always get a laugh no matter how silly they are. In 2013 a video of a girl twerking upside-down and then falling over onto some candles went viral. To date that video has garnered over 18 million views.

However, later in 2013, late-night talk show host and comedian Jimmy Kimmel came forward with a video confessional admitting that the video was a fake. The girl in the video is in actual fact a professional stuntwoman. Undoubtedly, the video is a very successful hoax and people still watch it to this day, despite it being a known fake.

Watch the original video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CddMD3QqTFs

Jimmy Kimmel’s admission of the prank: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HSJMoH7tnvw

HUVr Tech Hoverboard (2014)

For years the fans of the Back to the Future trilogy have been waiting patiently for the hoverboard that Marty McFly used in the films to become a reality. It was no surprise then that the release of a video showing skateboarding legend Tony Hawk riding a hoverboard generated a lot of buzz around the world. The video also featured original Back to the Future cast member Christopher Lloyd (who played Emmett “Doc” Brown), actor Billy Zane, and musician Moby.

Unfortunately, the video was a prank created by Funny or Die, a comedy website known for producing exclusive content featuring celebrities and taking the mickey out of the world. Since the bubble has been burst yet again the anticipation for a real hoverboard to be invented has been even greater.

Watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4vE_vpkr90