What was fake online: the Caitlyn Jenner edition

This photo taken by Annie Leibovitz exclusively for Vanity Fair shows the cover of the magazine's July 2015 issue. Annie Leibovitz/Vanity Fair via AP

Warning: This post contains language that some users may find offensive. Discretion is advised.

Working in the online world can be a bit of a minefield — the web is full of fakes, frauds and hoaxes. Sorting through them all can be equally frustrating and entertaining. Global News spends a lot of time verifying online material, as do sites like Storyful (some even read through reams of documents, like the Verification Handbook, explaining how). What better thing to write a weekly column about?

Here’s this week’s edition of real and fake stuff on the web, the Caitlyn Jenner edition (and here’s even more fake stuff from the past two months).

Oh, the irony

On Monday, Caitlyn Jenner made her debut on the cover of the July issue of Vanity Fair. A few hours after the cover was released, Facebook user Terry Coffey posted:

Story continues below advertisement

A quick Google image search of the image revealed where it came from: A project called Marwencol, a tiny town using dolls for inhabitants as a way of helping the artist who created it recover from an assault. He was beaten 15 years ago by five men who had learned he dressed as a woman.

The project was the subject of the 2010 documentary Marwencol. The New York Times did a profile on the artist, Mark Hogancamp, in 2011.

“Made from scraps of plywood and peopled with a tribe of Barbies and World War II action figures, Marwencol grew along the side of his trailer home near Kingston,” it read.

“Narratives surrounding a downed American fighter pilot rescued by Marwencol’s all-female population began unfurling against a backdrop that was nominally a World War II setting, in Belgium. The themes, however, were Mr. Hogancamp’s own: the brutality of men, the safe haven of a town of women, the twin demons of rage and fear.”

Here is Hogancamp with his alter ego, “Hogie,” in 2010.

Jeff Malmberg/©Cinema Guild/Courtesy Everett Collection.

And here he is working on Marwencol:

Story continues below advertisement
Tom Putnam/©Cinema Guild/Courtesy Everett Collection.

The irony seemed to have struck Coffey:

His conclusion seemed to point to a lesson learned:


While not necessarily fake, it’s worth pointing out that people needn’t worry about a petition calling for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to remove Jenner’s Olympic medals.

Story continues below advertisement

Breaking news from Canada and around the world sent to your email, as it happens.

Great suggestion Amber Stefani. The IOC does allow transgender athletes to compete if they have undergone sex reassignment surgery.

The decision was made in 2004 before the Athens Olympic Games that those who had completed surgical changes, were legally recognized as that gender and had undergone hormone therapy for two years could compete in the Olympics.

A rumour also circulated online this week that the petition was created by 4chan trolls. Here’s a screenshot of one anonymous post made on June 1.

In response to the petition, Twitter users started a #dontgivebackthegold campaign.

Story continues below advertisement

Users needn’t have worried about the trolls, the IOC told the Independent on Thursday that the organization had “no issue” with Jenner’s transition.

ESPY awards fake runner up

The ESPY awards announced on Monday Jenner would be awarded with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the upcoming July ceremony.

Later that afternoon, a tweet by a Boston columnist started a rumour that Jenner would be awarded the prize over runner up Noah Galloway, an Iraq war veteran who lost two limbs and is now a distance runner (and competed on Dancing With the Stars).

Story continues below advertisement

According to, the host, Gerry Callahan, meant the tweet in a sarcastic way. But once this tweet was posted by @MilitaryUSA, the rumour took off:

Story continues below advertisement

Story continues below advertisement

Of the 52,000 people who retweeted it: Tory MP Rick Dykstra.

ESPN later released a statement essentially saying that there were no runners up. “At all times, there are many worthy candidates,” it said.

A retraction

An article in US Weekly claimed that Jenner’s daughter, model Kendall Jenner, had broken her silence on Caitlyn’s transition.

“I love my dad,” it quoted Jenner as saying. “He’s always been there for me and my sisters. He’s a wonderful man.”

Jenner later tweeted a denial she had made the statements:

Story continues below advertisement

The following day, Us Weekly posted a retraction and removed the story from its website.

“The interview was allegedly conducted by an independent freelance journalist at the Saturday, March 14, taping of Comedy Central’s roast of Justin Bieber in Los Angeles,” it said.

The post said that after the model tweeted the denial, it contacted the reporter who stood by the story, but that editors had “concerns about the veracity of this interview and the circumstances under which it was obtained.”

No mistake

A story published by a fake news site this week had some thinking Jenner would transition back to male.

(The fake site Huzlers has the dubious distinction of being on rumour-busting site’s “Do Not Share” list.)

What was fake online: the Caitlyn Jenner edition - image

Only a few users were fooled:

Story continues below advertisement

Yes Livy, they were.

Sponsored content