Media Pranks

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Egyptian Candid Camera Take 2: “You’ve Been Kidnapped”

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Media Pranks, Truth that's Stranger than Fiction

Submitted by Mike I: Another Egyptian magic moment… maybe a side effect of the Arab Spring?

‘You’ve been kidnapped’: Egyptian TV show ‘terror pranks’ celebrities
By Dina Al-Shibeeb
Al Arabiya
29 July 2012

An Egyptian show is taking entertainment to another level by duping celebrities into believing they have been abducted by terrorists.

The show, “Ramz, the desert’s fox” aired on Al-Hayat TV channel at the start of Ramadan, begins at Cairo’s Terminal 2 airport where a tourist bus arrives to take the celebrity who is the target of the prank.

Video from Jewish News One

The unsuspecting celebrity believes that he or she is being transported on bus to participate in a program to be filmed at the tourist center, the Red Sea city of Ghardaka, to boost the country’s dwindling tourism sector. (more…)

Fake Bill Keller Op-Ed Claimed by Wikileaks

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Filed under: Media Pranks, Political Pranks

Submitted by Emerson Dameron and Clark Stoeckley:

WikiLeaks claims responsibility for fake Bill Keller column, citing donation ban
by Ed Pilkington
29 July 2012

Hoax including fake tweets and a counterfeit Times website dismissed as ‘childish prank’ by former editor Bill Keller

Bill Keller, former New York Times executive editor and current columnist, has found himself the subject of an elaborate internet hoax. Photograph: Ruth Fremson/AP
WikiLeaks, the whistleblowing site set up by Julian Assange, has claimed that it was behind the fake opinion piece circulating on the internet under the name of Bill Keller, columnist and former executive editor of the New York Times.

In a tweet, WikiLeaks said:

The organisation implied that it – or its “great supporters”, whomsoever they might be – had carried out the stunt in a bid to embarrass the Times into covering the financial blockade of WikiLeaks by US companies: (more…)

Egyptian Candid Camera: A Look at the Dark Side

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Filed under: Media Pranks, Political Pranks

Submitted by Mike I:

Egyptian Celebs React Violently When Told They Are On Israeli TV

Published on Jul 24, 2012 by iraqisolder:

A video featuring scenes from an Egyptian candid camera series is garnering attention on the Internet. The show, created by Memri TV, includes clips of Egyptian celebrities being told they are appearing on an Israeli channel.

The video starts with an interview between a female host and actor Ayman Kandeel “Tuhami.” Kandeel is friendly at first but grows angry as a caller tells him he’s being featured on an Israeli program. The actor gets into an argument with a producer, ultimately assaulting the original woman he was speaking with.


Media Manipulator Ryan Holiday Exposes Media Manipulation

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Filed under: Media Pranks, Publicity Stunts

How This Guy Lied His Way Into MSNBC, ABC News, The New York Times and More
by Dave Thier
July 18, 2012

Ryan Holiday could be called an “expert.” As head of marketing for American Apparel, an online strategist for Tucker Max, and
self-styled “media manipulator,” he can talk social media and modern advertising with the best of them – he’s done so both online and in print on countless occasions. He is not an expert in barefoot running, investing, vinyl records, or insomnia. But he is a liar. With a little creative use of the internet, he’s been quoted in news sources from small blogs to the most reputable outlets in the country talking about all of those things.

Holiday, 25 years old and based in New Orleans, mostly wanted to see if it could be done. He had been getting blogs to write what he wanted for years, and had developed a sense of how stories were put together in the internet age. He thought he could push the envelope a bit further.

“I knew that bloggers would print anything, so I thought, what if, as an experiment, I tried to prove that they will literally print anything?” he says. “Instead of trying to get press to benefit myself, I just wanted to get any press for any reason as a joke.” (more…)

Fake Branding Courtesy of Google+

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Filed under: Media Pranks

Fake Google+ Profile Looks Bad For Bank Of America, But Worse For Google
Huffington Post
November 16, 2011

A Google+ account titled “Bank of America” posted a series of updates last week mocking homeowners who couldn’t pay their mortgages.

“Big company party in foreclosed house #2340087 tonight!” read one post.

Another warned Occupy Wall street protesters, “You will sit down and shut up, or we will foreclose on you.”

The Google+ profile featured a Bank of America logo, a link to the bank’s website, and the address and phone number of its New York headquarters. And though it boasted the same name as Bank of America’s official page — it was a fake.

Bank of America is one of several high-profile brands, including Disney, that have had their identities usurped on Google+ by users impersonating the companies. (more…)

Christopher Walken Impersonated in Natalie Wood Death Case

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Filed under: Media Pranks

From a reliable source: A sports talk radio employee, posing as Christopher Walken, fans the flames of a re-opened investigation into the 30 year old death of Natalie Wood. AP picks up the story and then kills it, claiming they were hoaxed.

First the retraction:

AP-US–Natalie Wood-Investigation, KILL,57
^BULLETIN STORY REMOVED: BC-US–Natalie Wood-Investigation
Eds: BULLETIN KILL. Do NOT use BC-US–Natalie Wood-Investigation. A kill is mandatory. The story was based on a purported interview with Christopher Walken that was a radio station hoax.

Los Angeles (AP) — The Associated Press has withdrawn the 12th and 13th Ld-Writethrus of its story about the Natalie Wood investigation. The story quoted Christopher Walken telling Washington, D.C. sports talk radio station ESPN980 about his recollections from the night that Wood died. The station now says that it was a hoax involving a station employee who was impersonating Walken.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.) APTV 11-18-11 1259PST

and here’s the story that was killed… (more…)

‘Gay Girl In Damascus’ Is Married Man in America

Filed under: Media Pranks, Political Pranks, Prank News

Submitted by David Strom:

‘Gay Girl In Damascus’ Turns Out To Be An American Man
by Eyder Peralta and Andy Carvin
June 12, 2011

Over the last several months, Amina Arraf, a blogger who said she was Syrian-American and went by the name Gay Girl In Damascus, captured the world’s attention. Her blog caught on just as the protests against President Bashar al-Assad of Syria became widespread and the crackdowns more violent.

On June 6, it all came to a screeching halt when Amina’s cousin declared on the blog that Amina had met the fate of many bloggers in authoritarian regimes: Assad’s police had taken her into custody. Whether she was alive or dead, no one knew.

As soon as “Free Amina” groups popped up on Facebook and the State Department began looking for her, the story began to seem a lot like fiction. No one had ever talked to Amina. The Guardian published a profile of her June 7 that included a picture they soon found out wasn’t Amina but of a Londoner called Jelena Lecic. The biographical details in her blog posts did not check out. Amina Arraf couldn’t be found in any public records in Georgia or Virginia and the names of her father and mother also turned up nothing. (more…)

Bin Laden and The IT Crowd: Anatomy of a Twitter hoax

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Filed under: Media Pranks

Submitted by Larry Croft:

Bin Laden and The IT Crowd: Anatomy of a Twitter hoax
BBC News
23 May 2011

Rumours circulating on Twitter that Osama Bin Laden was a fan of The IT Crowd sitcom were an elaborate new media hoax. Here comedian Graham Linehan explains how he organised the ruse.

I spread a story on Twitter that in some of the videos seized from his compound during the Navy Seals raid, Osama Bin Laden was watching my sitcom The IT Crowd. I did it to illustrate the lightning speed at which a rumour can circulate and mutate on Twitter.

Only joking! I did it because I thought it would be funny, but it did circulate and mutate really quickly so maybe there’s a good lesson for us here. I mean really, it’s scary what Twitter can do. You can’t get more offline than my mother, and even she said to my brother, the day after the story “broke”, “Did you hear about your brother and Osama?”

So! It appears that one good way of starting a rumour is to pretend that the story is already circulating. (more…)

Salem Bewitched by NYU Student Prank

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Media Pranks

Fake Salem Song Teaches Internet A Lesson It’ll Probably Forget Pretty Soon
by Maura Johnston
Village Voice
April 8, 2011

Yesterday the Internet lit up for a bit with news of a new track from the draggy, divisive outfit Salem. “Nite Daze,” according to the email blasting it around the Internet, was “all about the drag environment of being incredibly tired, in a dream-state, wasted or on something, and forcing something creative from the mutual confused experience,” and it sure sounded like at least one of those words. (Its “demo” form also didn’t sound all that different from finished tracks by the outfit.) But just as soon as it popped up, links to it went dead, because as it turned out the snare-heavy track wasn’t a Salem demo but… the result of an NYU project. On “culture jamming”! (more…)

Classic Car Club Quickly Reverses Over Prank

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Filed under: Media Pranks

Submitted by Erin:

A Fake Tax Rattles Classic Car Buffs
by Michael Barbaro
The New York Times
April 7, 2011

Click to see the mock New York Times article.

As April Fool’s gags go, the Shelby American Automobile Club’s 2011 spoof did not seem especially convincing. Until, that is, hundreds of classic car lovers across the country were duped, became enraged and started to organize against a nonexistent threat.

A few days ago, the Connecticut club printed a fake front page of The New York Times that included what purported to be a major scoop: to close the federal deficit, Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York was proposing a federal tax on specialty automobiles. (more…)

Fox News Out-Foxed by Weekly World News?

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Filed under: Media Pranks

Fox News Duped By Report That Los Angeles Will Spend $1 Billion On Jetpacks
Huffington Post
October 6, 2010

Fox News reported that Los Angeles is going to spend $1 billion on jetpacks that can fly a person up to 63 miles per hour and soar to heights of 8,000 feet.

But this is one head-in-the-clouds idea that would never get off the ground, not even in the City of Angels.

“We certainly haven’t bought any jetpacks,” police chief Charlie Beck told the LA Times. “We haven’t bought [squad] cars for two years.”

Watch the video as captured by Mediaite:


Joaquin Phoenix & Casey Affleck Expose Themselves

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Filed under: Media Pranks, Pranksters

Update from, September 21, 2010: David Letterman Was In on the Joaquin Phoenix Hoax

Documentary? Better Call It Performance Art
by Michael Cieply
The New York Times
September 16, 2010

Casey Affleck wants to come clean.

South Pasadena, Calif. His new movie, “I’m Still Here,” was performance. Almost every bit of it. Including Joaquin Phoenix’s disturbing appearance on David Letterman’s late-night show in 2009, Mr. Affleck said in a candid interview at a cafe here on Thursday morning.

“It’s a terrific performance, it’s the performance of his career,” Mr. Affleck said. He was speaking of Mr. Phoenix’s two-year portrayal of himself — on screen and off — as a bearded, drug-addled aspiring rap star, who, as Mr. Affleck tells it, put his professional life on the line to star in a bit of “gonzo filmmaking” modeled on the reality-bending journalism of Hunter S. Thompson.

I’m Still Here” was released last week by Magnolia Pictures to scathing reviews by a number of critics, including Roger Ebert, who wrote that the film was “a sad and painful documentary that serves little useful purpose other than to pound another nail into the coffin.”

“The reviews were so angry,” said Mr. Affleck, who attributed much of the hostility to his own long silence about a film that left more than a few viewers wondering what was real — The drugs? The hookers? The childhood home-movie sequences in the beginning? — and what was not. (more…)

Rush-ing to Judgement

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Filed under: Media Pranks

Limbaugh Taken In: The Judge Was Not Loaded for Bear
by Kevin Sack
The New York Times
September 15, 2010

Pensacola, Fla. — Anyone listening to Rush Limbaugh’s radio show Tuesday could be forgiven for thinking that Judge Roger Vinson has the federal government dead in his sights.

Mr. Limbaugh spent some time profiling Judge Vinson, a senior judge on the Federal District Court in Pensacola, who had just announced he would allow a legal challenge to the new health care law to advance to a full hearing. The conservative radio host informed his listeners that the judge was an avid hunter and amateur taxidermist who once killed three brown bears and mounted their heads over his courtroom door to “instill the fear of God into the accused.”

“This,” Mr. Limbaugh said, “would not be good news” for liberal supporters of the health law.

But, in fact, Judge Vinson has never shot anything other than a water moccasin (last Saturday, at his weekend cabin), is not a taxidermist and, as president of the American Camellia Society, is far more familiar with Camellia reticulata than with Ursus arctos.

Apparently, Mr. Limbaugh had fallen prey to an Internet hoax. (more…)

Urban Foxhunting Hoax Explained

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Media Pranks, Pranksters

Submitted by Josh Jaspers:

Urban fox hunt video was hoax aimed at the media, say film-makers
by Paul Lewis
6 August 2010

Chris Atkins explains how he hoaxed the press into printing stories about urban fox hunters.

It was the internet video that sparked a media outcry: grainy footage that seemed to show four masked men drugging a fox and later beating it to death with cricket bats in a London park that was posted on YouTube and Facebook earlier this week.

But the Guardian can reveal that the new sport of “urban foxhunting” was an elaborate hoax. The film-makers, Chris Atkins and Johnny Howorth, said no real foxes were harmed in the film, which was intended as a satirical swipe at “media hysteria” over the danger of urban foxes.

Animal rights campaigners had expressed fury over the “bloodthirsty” huntsmen, eliciting the support of MPs on Twitter and prompting an inquiry by the Metropolitan police’s wildlife crime unit.

YouTube and Facebook removed the footage and the controversy was covered in news outlets including the Guardian, the Times, the Daily Mirror and the Daily Mail. The BBC was also duped, sending a reporter to Victoria Park, Hackney – the supposed scene of the crime. Amid a growing furore, the animal welfare group League Against Cruel Sports launched a campaign against urban foxhunting, while the RSPCA said it was investigating. (more…)

Virginity for Sale?

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Filed under: Media Pranks

Is it a hoax or is it porn? Joey Skaggs is interviewed for AOL News:

Hoax Experts Cast Doubt on Virgin Reality Show
by David Moye
May 17, 2010

Four Australian virgins are allegedly in Las Vegas to sell off their virginity to the highest bidder, but hoax experts say the only ones getting screwed are the people who believe it’s real.

Australian documentary filmmaker Justin Sisely is getting international publicity for planning a reality show in which men and women will auction their virginity to the highest bidders — but hoax experts are casting doubt on the whole enterprise.

After a yearlong audition process in Australia, Sisely says he has found six virgins — five men and one woman — willing to broadcast their first-times on prime time for about $17,700 each, as well as 90 percent of their sale price. Two of those virgins, Ben Smith and “Veronica Peach,” are reportedly in Nevada after the Australian government threatened to hit Sisely with prostitution charges if he filmed the show in his home country.

Now Sisely is claiming the auction will take place in a Nevada brothel, which will receive the remaining 10 percent of the sale prices.

Although bids supposedly will be placed online before the final auction, experts in both hoaxes and the sex industry doubt the whole affair is real or will ever happen.

Joey Skaggs, who has a 40-year-career of playing pranks on the media, says Sisely’s purported documentary sounds like a big media hoax — and not a good one at that. (more…)