‘Fake News’ circulates around the globe faster than you click like or retweet.
Even if it comes from a somewhat dubious source, it’s truly amazing the kind of things that people will make up and that will, inevitably, go viral. So we’ve put together a list of the five weirdest and best fake news stories that have been circulating in the news recently.
1. Not eating ice cream could cure you of coronavirus
Ah, Coronavirus. The word on everyone’s lips. It would be impossible not to include some of the conspiracies and fake news items about the pandemic because there are so many of them – but perhaps the weirdest was the notion that avoiding cold foods and drinks like ice cream and milkshakes could protect you from the virus.
This was back when people believed the virus disappeared in warmer temperatures – of which there are some theories but no concrete, scientific evidence. The rumour was spread via the social media app TikTok, a site that has proved itself ripe for conspiracy theories and fake news.
2. The death of Queen Elizabeth
Most internationally famous celebrities have been the victim of a death hoax or two – and Britain’s longest-reigning monarch is no exception. At the back end of 2019, a screenshot of a WhatsApp conversation appeared to confirm that the Queen had died of a heart attack and the process had begun informing the nation and other countries in the Commonwealth.
Of course, the story was fake and had no sources to back it up – but when the Queen does pass away, the authorities will be informed under the code name ‘London Bridge’ – and likely, not have it leak via WhatsApp.
3. The Great Lasagne of Wembley Stadium
Football fans were bewildered when a WhatsApp voice message appeared in March that reported the Ministry of Defence had commandeered London’s famous Wembley Stadium to cook the world’s largest lasagne and distribute it to the homes of the people of England.
Of course, the story was completely fake – and the creator of the voice app, but the theory became so popular that the Football Association had to release a statement that it had no plans to cook a lasagne in the stadium.
4. Wayfair and Child Trafficking
Perhaps one of the weirdest and most serious hoax news stories to come out of the last few months involved Wayfair and an Instagram influencer. In June, an Instagram activist began circling a theory that Wayfair, the high-end, low-price furniture company, was actually a front for a child trafficking ring.
The theory also spread onto conspiracy sites like QAnon and Reddit, with many believing that the sale of cabinets with girls’ names as their product title was a front for selling actual children. This was quickly debunked – including by one woman who was touted as evidence that the claims were true, despite having never gone missing in the first place.
5. Black Widow rises again…or not
Like so many huge movies that were due to be released this summer, Marvel’s stand-alone ‘Black Widow’, following Natasha Romanoff played by Scarlett Johansson, is likely to be pushed back till 2021, disappointing many fans. So when an official-looking Disney+ account announced that the film would be available on the streaming service for a specific fee, people were very excited.
Disney had just announced that their live-action remake of Mulan would be moving to Disney+ for a fee – but the Black Widow news was just a hoax, started by a fake Disney account. Many fans believed – with many of them expressing their outrage at the fake cost of watching the movie in September.