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 (and here’s even more fake stuff from the past month).
Hulk Hogan and the trolls
Hulk Hogan has had a bad week. First, World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. cut its relationship with the wrestler and erased him from its website over a reported racist tirade captured on video. Then, he got trolled.
On Monday, Hulk’s publicist confirmed that he was retweeting supportive messages.
Messages like this one:
Only, this wasn’t Ethan Morley and his mate. On the left is Danny Welbeck, a professional British footballer playing for Arsenal. On the right is his teammate Jack Wilshere.
Here’s another retweet, this one featuring a photo of Kolo Toure, an Ivorian professional soccer player, currently playing for Liverpool.
He retweeted a picture of Canadian rapper Drake, with British footballer Rio Ferdinand.
Here’s another retweet, featuring an image of Efe Ambrose, a Nigerian soccer player for Celtic. He’s even wearing a team jacket.
Hulk still doesn’t seem to have any idea. But whatchu gonna do?
Fake photo op
Restoration PAC, a conservative group supporting Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson, released an ad recently attacking President Barack Obama’s policy on Iran.
The video (which is now private on YouTube), featured a still image showing Obama shaking hands with Iranian president Hassan Rouhani.
The two have never met. The pair did talk on the phone in 2013…
… but have never met in person.
Obama has held many other photo ops with world leaders similar to the one above, such as with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Hey, wait a minute…
Restoration PAC did not respond to Global News’ request for comment, but spokesman Dan Curry reportedly told BuzzFeed News, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re saying that’s a photoshop — can you explain what you’re talking about?”
Sandra Bland mugshot
A video released this week dispelled the disturbing online rumour that Sandra Bland was dead in her mugshot.
“The reason we’re doing this is because of the misinformation that has been put out, both through social media and even through mainstream media, that has led to the rumors that Sandra Bland was in some way deceased or harmed or not well when she was brought in to the Waller County Jail,” Waller County Judge Trey Duhon said.
The video showed the taking of the mugshot.
He said people had “gone to great lengths to insinuate or imply that she’s deceased.”
The great lengths included a badly Photoshopped version of the image.
Here’s an example of how easy and quick it is to recreate the fake.
The Toronto Star outed the Facebook page of Bebop Arooney this week as actually belonging to the RCMP.
The Facebook page liked the music of RiseUp, and interests included animal rights and the 2011 Kurdish Revolution.
The page also favourited some diverse pages: the National Council of Canadian Tamils, League of Ukrainian Canadians, Consulate General of Israel for Toronto and Western Canada and Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid.
Oh, and the profile photo is of three frolicking penguins.
The page has since been disabled, but is still available via Google web cache.
The RCMP did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Global News.