These days, most people seem to be one of two things: either they’re perpetually outraged or they’re really, really gullible. Naturally, it’s easy to take advantage of this and the result is often hilarity. Yes, Internet hoaxes have become an industry all their own – swindling grandma and stoking the ire of Cletus the Slackjawed Yokel have become twin pillars of the Internet age we live in and while most of these are mundane and easily forgotten, some are so absurd, so dumb, that you can’t help but wonder, long after they’ve passed their sell-by date how anyone could have ever fallen for them. And yet, they do. All the time. And so let us recognize these, seven of the dumbest Internet hoaxes ever.
7 $78,000 Stalking
A site called Coincidence Design got people all hot and bothered, outraging privacy advocates by claiming that they would stalk the girl of your dreams, unearth every detail about her and arrange an “accidental” meeting between the two of you, all for the low, low price of $78,000. Of course, the whole thing turned out to be a huge joke, but what makes it even more ridiculous is that, well, you can basically do all that for free. The Internet, what with Facebook, Twitter and all the rest, is basically 87% people stalking, 12% porn and 1% cat pictures. The idea that anyone would even for a second fall for this one means that a Terminator should probably be sent back through time to stalk their parents before they manage to reproduce.
Years ago, a company called ManBeef claimed that they were the world’s leading human meat distributor. Cue the wailing of idiots. Of course, the whole thing turned out to be a big hoax, but that didn’t stop people from buzzing about it – at its peak it received 500,000 hits per day – and wondering whether it was real or not, which… it was a site claiming to sell human flesh for people to eat. Come on. Anyway, as an amusing side-note, ManBeef.com was eventually turned into a porn site, a site which I’m guessing gave a completely different meaning to the concept of eating human meat.
5 Hunting for Bambi
In 2003, a website popped up offering hunters the chance to come to Las Vegas and hunt naked women with paintball guns for $10,000 a pop. Obviously ridiculous, the whole charade was kicked up a notch when a local reporter investigated, was shown an absurd staged “hunt” by the hoaxers and immediately reported the “shocking” findings. Fox News even got into the act, doing a story on it, which makes sense given that they’re in the business of reporting crazy bullshit that no one with a functioning brain would ever believe. The dude behind the hoax though wasn’t through and instead of coming clean, he went on MSNBC and claimed that the whole thing was real leading to the Mayor of Las Vegas freaking out and announcing that they were going to crack down on, uh, hunting naked women. Finally, after being threatened with prosecution, the hoaxer came clean, but not before making everyone look like a bunch of idiots. Again, he actually got people to believe he was organizing naked women hunts. Jesus.
4 Bonsai Kittens
This little gem of a site claimed to sell kittens that were squeezed into a bottle and fed by tubes, including chemicals that softened their bones so the kittens would grow into the shape of the bottle. Of course, it was all a joke, which anyone with half a brain would realize considering that, you know, none of that is actually possible. But it still didn’t stop the ol’ outrage machine from cranking up. People lost their shit, petitions were started and signed and the goddamn FBI even got involved, investigating the nonexistent company for animal cruelty only to announce that they had spent tax payer dollars investigating something that didn’t even exist. Look, there’s dumb and then there’s believing that there is some nefarious company selling little mutant kittens in a bottle. What a world.
3 Metallica Suing the Band Unfaith over the Use of the E and F Chords
Playing on the fact that Metallica is made up of a bunch of notorious assholes who will sue over virtually anything (I’m pretty sure Lars just sued me for writing that.) Erik Ashley (who ran a parody website similar to The Onion and – surprise! – was also the lead singer for Unfaith) put out an obviously ridiculous story about the group suing the band Unfaith for using the E and F chords, citing the fact that Metallica had been using them since 1982. Funny? Sure. Sort of. True? Jesus Christ, what’s wrong with you? Naturally, because this is the Internet and people will believe literally anything, legitimate news sources began to pick up the story and report it as fact. It was obviously ridiculous, but I guarantee you that to this day there are metal fans who will swear up and down that Metallica sued Unfaith.
2 The Many Versions of the Nigerian Scam
Somewhere out there, there is some idiot who fell for this, otherwise why would they keep trying this exercise in sublime absurdity? At this point, the scam is so well known that is almost performance art. Just cobble some pidgin English together, make up some ridiculous claim about a fugitive Nigerian prince or Minister of Finance, hit send and everybody laughs. Sadly though, like I said, there are people who actually fall for this shit, which… I mean, come on, if you send all your money to some random e-mailer claiming to be a Nigerian prince you should probably have your life and all its decisions turned over to court-appointed guardians, like Britney Spears. You just know she’s had to be restrained from sending her royalty checks to Nigerian Prince Okoye.
1 Tea Party Hijinks
We’ve all gotten the insane e-mails claiming crazy Obama conspiracies and that the government is faking mass shooting deaths just so they can steal your guns and put secret Illuminati agents under your beds. They’re obviously insane, desperate cries for help that point out just how many delusional nutjobs live and work right beside us and while it’s easy to laugh at them and make fun of stories claiming that Barack Obama was actually born in a Kenyan volcano to a half-woman/half-goat Satanist priestess, what’s not so funny is that there are a lot of people out there who actually fall for this hillbilly bullshit. It’s impossible to pick which particular hoax in this genre is the dumbest, so let’s just agree that they’re all tied for the worst and make fun of the next person who forwards us an e-mail claiming that Obama bathes nightly in the blood of American kittens and was actually born on Mars and is conspiring with his home planet to engineer a massive alien invasion. By the way, now that I’ve written that, some idiot out there will report it as fact because, well, these are just the times we’re living in.
(Previously published on March 4, 2013.)