The world thought Scrubs actor Zach Braff was dead yesterday for a few hours--suicide, they said. Turns out, it was just a Scrubs fan that had created a faker CNN page in 2007 that somehow resurfaced.
In an age where someone's Wikipedia page is edited spookily quick to reflect deaths and accidents, thanks to technology, the internet and, yes, Twitter, news--fake or not--travels fast. And outrage and panic travels even faster.
Check out this list we've compiled of the five bizarre internet hoaxes. From cryptozoology scares to this week's latest HIV scare, all this just goes to show that nothing has changed much about the human condition. H.G. Wells would be so proud.
1) Bonsai Kittens
It's the hoax that just won't die. Some time in 2005, a webpage was put up by a bunch of MIT grads students detailing instructions on how to grow your very own bonsai kitten: Just place a newborn kitten in a glass jar, attach some tubing for food and waste, drill a few holes in the jar, and voila! Cruel cuteness in a neat little jar.
Several investigations, including one by the FBI, later, it was unearthed soon after that it was all just a joke--any equipment that could supposedly be purchased through the site well, couldn't be--but of course, for years to follow, e-mail petitions protesting the e-savagery have been established.
2) Everything Will Give You HIV. Everything.
Fast food ketchup dispensers have been pumped with HIV-positive blood. There are hidden, infectious needles in that movie theater seat you're about to sit in. That gas pump handle you're about to use. That ATM cash dispenser. The coin return in that pay phone. Everything you eat will give you AIDS. Everything you touch will give you AIDS. Everything. You. Do. Will. Give. You. AIDS. These e-mails are still floating around out there and usually are usually written by a "police captain" or "Red Cross worker" of some sort. Yeah.
3) The Montauk Monster
Everybody loves some good cryptozoology madness. And it's not just limited to the armpits of America, folks--even fancypants Montauk had its own little story to tell. In July 2008, the stinky, fuzzy, purple-brown corpse of an unidentified mish-mashed, Dr. Moreau-type creature washed up on a beach in Montauk, New York. It kind of looked like a dog, it kind of looked like a raccoon, it kind of looked like a turtle. Or maybe even a pig. But then it had the hard beak of a bird. Soon enough, everyone from FOX News to Gawker had photos up and people guessing. No one still knows for sure what the creature was, though based on dental records, the most educated guess seems to be one fucked up, waterlogged raccoon. Poor raccoon.
The internet is a free market (for the most part). You'd be dumb to not partake, right? Enter Lonelygirl15, a 16-year-old gal who started vlogging (that's video blogging) some time in the summer of 2006. The videos started out normal, covering your basic teenage issues, but then the vlogs claiming that her family was involved with a cult came. In one video, Bree even reports that her parents were kidnapped by said cult. Soon after, fans grew suspicious and then the Los Angeles Times unearthed that Creative Artists Agency was responsible for the videos--Bree? Actually a 20-year-old actress named Jessica Rose. Rose went on to star in a few different online series, won some web awards, interviewed with some magazines, etc. Yawn.
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5) Bigfoot's Body Discovered!
This one you probably still remember: Last summer, a couple of dudes in George--with an internet radio show--last year announced their discovery of the body of the long sought after Bigfoot. They claimed it was 7'7" (you'd think Bigfoot would be taller?), weighed 500 pounds, and released the photo you see above: Which, one pointless news conference later, turned out to be a really good, widely available for purchase Bigfoot costume stuffed into a cooler. You'd think they would have at least tried a little harder than making a trip to the local halloween discount store.