12 December 2023

10 Viral Stories That Ended Up Being Fake

By Ronald Smith

Back in 2013, we saw a surge in Internet hoaxes. You might have even fallen for some of them yourself, like that story about the gay waitress who didn’t get a tip because of her lifestyle. And who could forget Manti Te’o and his imaginary dead girlfriend that made us shed a tear or two? Oh, and remember when it snowed in Egypt and everyone thought the world was coming to an end? Well, it turns out none of it was real.

One after another, these viral stories were debunked, making 2014 the year of unraveling hoaxes. Today, I want to take a look at 10 of these stories that captured our attention and turned out to be nothing more than elaborate lies.

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1. Wanna Be Kim? You Bet!

Have you ever wanted to resemble your favorite superstar? It’s a common desire among fans. But what if I told you that in North Korea, it’s not just a wish – it’s the law? That’s right, male students in North Korea are legally required to sport the same haircut as their beloved leader, Kim Jong-Un. The rationale behind this rule is simple: if you want to honor your supreme leader, you better look exactly like him.

10 Viral Stories That Ended Up Being Fake

Actually, there’s this thing in North Korea where they have a list of approved haircuts for men and women. But here’s the thing – they don’t really enforce it. So, in case you were wondering, ‘The Kim’ cut is not on the list. Those who have been to North Korea and come back say they haven’t seen any other Kim Jong-Un lookalikes walking around. But even if they did, it’s probably just a fad that nobody really cares about or a way for super fans to show their devotion to him – and we all know he’s got a lot of those.

10 Viral Stories That Ended Up Being Fake

2. Sorry, you can’t hang at KFC with me

By now, you probably know who Victoria Wilcher is. If not, let me show you:

10 Viral Stories That Ended Up Being Fake

When I look at her face, I see the scars left behind from a terrifying encounter with her grandfather’s pit bulls. Those scars have brought her a lot of challenges, like paralysis on the right side of her face and having to rely on a feeding tube to eat. It breaks my heart to think about the difficulties she faces every day.

There was one incident that especially hurt. It happened when her grandma went into a KFC restaurant just to get some mashed potatoes. But can you believe it? The management actually asked her to leave because Victoria’s injuries were making the other customers uncomfortable. It’s hard to imagine how someone could be so heartless.

Despite everything that has happened, I still believe in the Wilchers’ story. However, they made the decision to take down the Facebook support page for Victoria. On a positive note, KFC has stated that they will fulfill their promise of donating $30,000 to Victoria’s recovery fund.

3. No alcohol for you until you reach 25

If you’re worried about having to wait until you’re 25 to legally drink alcohol in the United States, I have some good news for you. Starting August 2014, there were rumors spreading that the legal drinking age might increase to 25. But remember, it is essential to consider the source of these rumors before believing them.

Just like in this situation, the bogus news about a new 25-year old limit was spread by Sunday Times Daily, a website known for creating fake stories. When you read an article on that site, it tricks you with a “You’ve been fooled!” message. So, unless you’re reading a tweet about someone’s frustration because they can’t drink legally on their 21st birthday this weekend, you shouldn’t take it seriously.

Remember, always verify your sources, buddy!

10 Viral Stories That Ended Up Being Fake

4. Another Celeb Bites the Dust

I can’t help but wonder if celebrities have a secret stash of lives tucked away somewhere or if they’ve discovered the fountain of youth. I mean, how else can you explain them suddenly keeling over one day only to be seen alive and well, shopping the next? It’s like they’re playing a game of hide-and-seek with death, always popping up to say, “Nah, not today.”

But you know what? Sometimes it’s not just a game. Sometimes Twitter gets a little trigger-happy and prematurely mourns the loss of a star. Like that one time everyone went into a frenzy over Cher’s supposed demise, thanks to the #NowThatchersDead hashtag. Talk about a mix-up. It just goes to show that we have to be extra careful when it comes to reading lowercase and uppercase.

10 Viral Stories That Ended Up Being Fake

5. Off to the dogs!

Time for some more bizarre news from North Korea. Get this: Kim Jong-Un supposedly decided to punish his second-in-command, his own uncle, with a mind-boggling death sentence. Picture this: he apparently ordered a ferocious pack of dogs to tear this poor man apart. Can you believe it? One of the most horrifying execution methods of our time. But here’s the thing – it never actually happened.

10 Viral Stories That Ended Up Being Fake

So, get this – the news I heard turned out to be a total translation job. Can you believe it? It came straight from some Chinese satirical account called Wen Wei Po. And guess what? The Singapore media ate it up and spread it everywhere, even reaching Western media! Talk about a game of broken telephone! I mean, language barriers can really mess things up, but we can all agree that news from trashy tabloids is hardly trustworthy, right?

Now, I get that confirming news from North Korea can be tough. I mean, it’s not like we have direct access to their information. But here’s the thing – if South Korea, who usually has the inside scoop on their neighbor’s happenings, didn’t report on this, then maybe all those other journalists should do a double take on their sources. Just saying.

6. The athlete who cried wolf

Can you believe the craziness that happened during the Sochi Winter Olympics? I mean, we already had the issues with construction and facilities that weren’t fully ready, and oh yeah, let’s not forget about the stray dogs causing a stir. But you won’t believe what happened next!

There was a story going around that US luger Kate Hansen saw a wolf lurking outside her hotel room. Can you imagine? That sounds terrifying! But let me tell you, it turns out this whole thing was just a big joke. And who do you think was behind it? None other than the infamous TV host, Jimmy Kimmel. That guy loves pulling pranks, like that one time when a woman caught fire while twerking!

7. China misses out on sunrises

10 Viral Stories That Ended Up Being Fake

Hey there! So, let’s talk about Beijing’s air for a sec. We all know it’s not exactly the healthiest, right? But here’s the thing: those virtual sunrises you’ve seen online? They’re just pictures. Yep, you heard me right. Those beautiful shots you’ve seen floating around were taken at a very specific moment, during an advertisement. Trust me, I’ve seen the evidence myself. There’s even a logo for the ad if you look closely.

But hey, I get it. It’s easy to assume things about China just because it’s China. But let’s not be too quick to judge, alright?

8. Passport Picasso Art

So get this: there’s a story going around about a Chinese man who got caught in a bit of an immigration nightmare in South Korea. You wanna know why? Well, his four-year-old son decided to unleash his inner artist and doodle all over his dad’s passport. Can you believe it? Poor guy ended up without a passport and stuck in a real bind.

10 Viral Stories That Ended Up Being Fake

Now, this one is actually really easy to figure out. First of all, when you look at identification documents, you usually see blurry or obscured details. But in this special work of art, everything is right there in the open, just scribbled over by a very talented artist (even though they’re young). Someone from Kotaku.com even pointed out that kids that age don’t have the kind of artistic skill shown in these drawings. Plus, there’s no smudging, and the lines are too neat. And if you look closely, you’ll see that the drawings on the right side of the passport are actually floating off the page!

9. Japan rides the Pokemon plane

We already talked about how the Japanese soccer team chose Pikachu as their mascot for the World Cup. So what could be more perfect (and adorable) than the national team showing up in Brazil on a plane covered in Pokemon?

Unfortunately, the Pokemon planes, while they may have once existed, were retired in September 2013. I found out about this on Twitter, from an unofficial FIFA World Cup account. It’s a bit disappointing, but it turns out that Japan flew on a plane without any Pokemon decorations.

10. Diane, you were so rude

I have to tell you about this epic story, even though it happened last year. It was during Thanksgiving season when a reality TV producer named Elan Gale tweeted about a really rude passenger on his flight. This lady, named Diane, was angry at the flight attendants because her flight was delayed. Gale decided to have a little battle with her right there on the plane, and he live-tweeted the whole thing on Twitter.

Okay, here’s the deal. Gale, he’s this dude who likes to tweet jokes and some fake live tweets. He does it all the time, so nobody should be surprised. But you know what? This time he was actually right. No one even bothered to ask him for more information before jumping into the whole story about this epic fight. That’s what you get for trusting a TV show producer.