French Haiti Reparations Hoax Cloaked in Mystery

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Political Pranks

July 19, 2010 Updates:

  • Faux French Foreign Ministry Explains Prank by Robert Mackey, NY Times Lede blog
  • Link to the perpetrators CRIME (in English and French), as their original Web site mysteriously disappeared from their .fr domain last Friday, which the French government apparently controls.

  • Twitter Communiques From Fake French Foreign Ministry on Haiti Hoax
    by Robert Mackey
    The Lede Blog, NY Times
    July 16, 2010

    A group calling itself The Committee for the Immediate Reimbursement of Funds Taken From Haiti took credit on Friday for an elaborate hoax carried out this week in which an actor pretending to be a spokesperson for the French government announced that France would reimburse Haiti money it was forced to pay in exchange for its independence in the nineteenth century.

    As The Lede explained on Thursday, the fake announcement was posted on a near replica of the French foreign ministry's Web site on Wednesday in both video and text form.

    In an update posted on a Twitter feed established this week, in the guise of France's foreign ministry, the group, using the French form of its name, announced:

    The French news agency AFP, which reported on Thursday that a real spokesman for France's foreign ministry had denounced the hoax, and the fake Web site it was posted on, was initially taken in by the stunt, reporting the announcement as real news on Wednesday.

    In another update posted on the @DiplomatieFR Twitter feed, the group denied that the stunt was the work of anti-corporate pranksters known as the Yes Men in response to that suggestion from another Twitter user, Pooja Bhatia, a former Wall Street Journal reporter now working in Haiti.

    For their part, the Yes Men posted a link to an article about the hoax on their Twitter feed, with the message:

      Hey somebody is stealing our schtick! Off with their heads!

    thanks Kimberly