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 few months).
Hotline Bling in heaven?
Canadian rapper Drake appeared at Wednesday night’s ‘Drake Night’ at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, confirming that he did not die, as was reported earlier this week.
The hoax started on YouTube, with comments about his reported death appearing under his video for ‘Hotline Bling.’
Other users quickly jumped in to set the record straight:
You can still call him on his cellphone.
Go home Internet, you’re drunk
Remember when albums could sell out? That can’t happen with digital versions, for obvious reasons.
But that didn’t stop some people from freaking out about a Photoshopped image showing Adele’s new album 25 as being sold out in Apple’s iTunes store.
Once again, the Good Samaritans of the Internet cleared things up.
The album 25 has hit 3 million sales since its release.
White student unions
A number of Facebook pages popped up this week purporting to be white student unions at various prominent universities in Canada and the U.S. Some commenters claimed the pages were all a hoax by Internet trolls.
The pages shared each other’s posts:
The pages were created in the wake of a now-removed post on a website called The Daily Stormer, saying:
“So, guys. Here’s the plan:
Make more of these White Student Union pages on Facebook for various universities. You don’t have to go there. Make one for Dartmouth, Princeton, etc.
Go, do it now. If they won’t let it on Facebook, put it on tumblr or wordpress or whatever. Get it up, then forward links to the local media.
Just fill it up with pro-White memes and ‘we’ve had enough of these people’ rhetoric.
Extra points if you actually go to the school.”
When contacted by Global News, the administrator of the Western White Student Union Facebook page only agreed to an interview via email or Facebook chat.
“For the most part, our activities include weekly meetings where we discuss issues related to Whiteness, White identity, Western civilization, etc.,” said the administrator, who would only identify himself as “Allan.”
He said that every member of the WWSU is a current undergraduate student at Western University, and that the group has eight members who knew each other prior to forming the group.
“As far as I know, none of the WSU groups that formed recently are sanctioned by their home universities at this point,” Allan said.
Western released a statement saying it was aware of the page and investigating, but that the members were not known to the university and that it did not sanction the group.
Wrong jet crash
It was an already breathtaking image that appeared on Tuesday morning, showing a flaming Russian fighter jet streaking across the sky, then plummeting to the ground at the Turkish-Syrian border.
That is, until another photo made the rounds, this image perhaps even more striking than the last, showing a close-up view of the jet on fire, seemingly spinning out of control on its way down:
But the second image was from a 2014 incident that saw a Syrian jet shot down by Turkish fighter planes.
Both events occurred under similar circumstances: a pilot ejected in the 2014 crash, and it occurred in a border region of Syria. Turkey shot down both planes because, it said, they violated its airspace.
Turkish media said that the country had provided numerous warnings before shooting down the Russian jet earlier this week.
Both incidents produced similar images (Left is the 2014 incident, right is the more recent one).
Photo service AFP issued a kill notice on the photo after running it as an image depicting the more recent incident: