Marcy LaViollette

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Did Fake News Skew the Presidential Election?

Filed under: Literary Hoaxes, Media Literacy, Prank News, Pranksters

UPDATE November 9, 2017: Paul Horner, the protagonist of this story, was found dead at home on September 18, 2017, possibly from a drug overdose. investigates how his websites have disappeared in recent weeks, plus other unanswered questions.

Among the myriad of influences on the presidential election results, a prominent and pervasive force has been fake news, propagated by unscrupulous merchants seeking traffic via social media. Here’s a quasi-confession of one such voice.

Here also, from is “An Extremely Helpful List of Fake and Misleading News Sites to Watch Out For“.

Facebook fake-news writer: ‘I think Donald Trump is in the White House because of me'
by Caitlin Dewey
Washington Post
November 17, 2016


What do the Amish lobby, gay wedding vans and the ban of the national anthem have in common? For starters, they're all make-believe - and invented by the same man.

Paul Horner, the 38-year-old impresario of a Facebook fake-news empire, has made his living off viral news hoaxes for several years. He has twice convinced the Internet that he's British graffiti artist Banksy; he also published the very viral, very fake news of a Yelp vs. "South Park" lawsuit last year.

But in recent months, Horner has found the fake-news ecosystem growing more crowded, more political and vastly more influential: In March, Donald Trump's son Eric and his then-campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, even tweeted links to one of Horner's faux-articles. His stories have also appeared as news on Google.

In light of concerns that stories like Horner's may have affected the presidential election, and in the wake of announcements that both Google and Facebook would take action against deceptive outlets, Intersect called Horner to discuss his perspective on fake news. This transcript has been edited for clarity, length and - ahem - bad language. Read more

Creative Activism in Bulgaria

Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking

From Marcy LaViollette: Appreciated and reblogged from

Bulgaria’s Soviet Soldier Statue Vandalized Again: The Ukraine Colors Edition
by Marina Galperina
February 25, 2014

The most hated statue in Sofia, Bulgaria has been painted in the colors of the Ukrainian flag, in solidarity with the revolution and the deadly protests in the former Soviet Republic.


It is, essentially, a gigantic bronze relief to remind the Bulgarian people about an invading Soviet forces that crushed and “liberated” the country from its a reformist uprising 45 years ago. It was previously vandalized in June 2010 when the soldiers were painted as Superman, Ronald McDonald, Santa Claus and other capitalist/pop culture American icons, captioned below in graffiti: “In step with the times!”


It was vandalized again in August 2013, when it was sprayed entirely in hot pink and tagged with the words “Prague “™68″³ and “Bulgaria apologizes” in Czech and Bulgarian, as in, sorry about the Warsaw Pact, you know, that time Bulgarian troops aided the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia.


And of course, that time in August 2012 when it was briefly balaclava”™ed in tribute to the jailed Russian feminist art-band activists of Pussy Riot.


lead image: AFP Photo/Nikolay Doychinov

Fake Banksy Art Sells to Fake Art Collectors

Filed under: Art Pranks, Parody

From Marcy LaViollette:

Artist Holds Fake Banksy sale, Sells Out in an Hour
by Andy Cush
October 21, 2013

Banky”™s Central Park art sale presented an unusual opportunity: works of art worth thousands of dollars, on sale to the public for $60 a pop. For those of us who didn”™t get in on the action (the sale was unannounced and only eight paintings sold), watching the action play out on YouTube was positively maddening. It was tempting to go out and look for more even though the artist explicitly stated the stunt was a one-off.

That”™s where artists Dave Cicirelli and Lance Pilgrim came in. A week after Banksy”™s fire sale, Cicirelli and a group of collaborators took to the street, setting up a nearly identical stand in the same location and selling “fake Banksys” –imitation works of art that were explicitly labeled as such–also for $60 each. Forty of the bogus works, which even came with notarized “certificates of inauthenticity,” sold out in an hour.

“We wouldn”™t have sold any, if not for the media hype around Banksy,” Cicirelli told ANIMAL. “That was kind of the point””we wanted to complete his statement about the nature of hype and the value of art. Banksy”™s stunts have created a haze of uncertainty around everything, and we created “˜Fake Banksy”™ within that haze.”

Cicirelli is no stranger to stunts like these: in September, he published a book about using Facebook to fictionalize his own life, and he says he”™ll invest the money the team netted into upcoming projects.

“Also,” he adds, “I”™m buying a Banksy.”

Related Link:

  • Cicirelli Fake “Walk-about” Plays Out On Facebook
  • Banksy’s in NYC: Better Out Than In

    Filed under: Art Pranks, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Satire

    From Marcy LaViollette: Banksy has taken up residency on the streets of NYC for the month of October, 2013

    From Banksy’s Better Out Than In Website:

    October 6 – No posts today due to shocking footage found on YouTube:

    October 5

    A New York delivery truck converted into a mobile garden (includes rainbow, waterfall and butterflies) will visit a different location every evening from dusk.


    Images found around town (some have already been tagged over) from October 2nd & 3rd: (more…)

    10 Commandments for Con Men

    Filed under: How to Pull Off a Prank, Instructionals

    From Marcy LaViollette as seen on Lists of Note:

    “Count” Victor Lustig was a con man of considerable note. Born in 1890, by the 1930s he was wanted by approximately 45 law enforcement agencies worldwide. He had 25 known aliases and spoke 5 languages. He cunningly gained $5k from Al Capone. Better still, in 1925, Lustig posed as a government official in Paris, took five businessmen on a tour of the Eiffel Tower, and then “sold” it to one of them as 7300 tonnes of scrap metal; the con went so well, he tried it again soon after.

    He also wrote the following list of commandments for aspiring con men.

  • Be a patient listener (it is this, not fast talking, that gets a con-man his coups).
  • Never look bored.
  • Wait for the other person to reveal any political opinions, then agree with them.
  • Let the other person reveal religious views, then have the same ones.
  • Hint at sex talk, but don”™t follow it up unless the other fellow shows a strong interest.
  • (more…)

    Seattle Police: We’re Killing Everybody We Can!

    Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Pranksters

    From Marcy LaViollette:

    To put it mildly, the Seattle Police have had a number of questionable uses of force recently, including a couple shootings and a few cases of extreme force. The community isn’t too pleased, including this prankster:

    As seen on Slog News and Art


    SF’s Answer to Westboro Baptist Church

    Filed under: Parody

    Submitted by Marcy LaViollette as seen on Laughing Squid posted by Ed Hunsinger:

    San Francisco”™s Answer to Westboro Baptist Church

    photo by EDW Lynch

    Westboro Baptist Church showed up to protest in front of Twitter”™s San Francisco office on Thursday, but found themselves severely outnumbered by a crowd of absurdist pranksters, including guest blogger EDW Lynch above.

    photo by Rubin Starset

    WBC”™s hate-promoting signs were answered by multiple signs of randomness, nonsensical yelling, and even a unicorn. A portable stereo blared Lady GaGa, while press and people passing by ignored the WBC signs and took pictures and videos of the more entertaining signs. I was also there and turned on the video camera while holding my sign.

    See more here.

    Harvey Mudd College Pranks Victoria’s Secret

    Filed under: College Pranks, Practical Jokes and Mischief

    Submitted by Marcy LaViollette:

    My nerdy alma mater only has around 700 students, and yet cast over 1 million computerized votes in a recent Victoria Secret contest, while also spelling out WIBSTR, which stands for “West is Best, Screw the Rest” (a dorm slogan).

    HUMOR LIFE: Harvey Mudd 1, Victoria”™s Secret 0
    by Carl Peaslee
    CMC Forum
    October 15, 2009 seems that Harvey Mudd students have taken a special interest in the lingerie industry. That”™s right. Our neighbors to the north are up to their brilliant shenanigans once again. Now, I don”™t doubt that those Mudders love a school emblazoned pair of panties as much as the next student body but unless my US News and World Report deceives me, I don”™t remember Harvey Mudd having OVER A MILLION STUDENTS!

    The best part is, they didn”™t just rig their own numbers, they catapulted six schools (among them the unlikely Bob Jones and Scripps College) to the top seven spots so that they could spell out the acronym WIBSTR or “West is best screw the rest,” apparently some kind of dorm related boast. (more…)

    DIY Bike Lanes

    Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking

    Submitted by Marcy LaViollette as seen on

    Paint Your Lane
    by By Dan Koeppel

    Do-it-yourself bike lanes are illegal, perhaps dangerous, potentially damaging to the cause of legitimate bike advocates everywhere””and really, really effective.

    0907_bike_lane_1The bridge is calm as Sunday morning dawns. At either end of the span, the freeway ramps are idle. Below, a few shorebirds peck at the marshy floor of the river. This is an out-of-character moment: During the week, thousands of cars pass through here, coming from the north, south and east, pinching into four lanes as they make their way toward the commercial centers of downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood and the city beyond.

    But at first light on this July 19th, the only vehicles here on Fletcher Drive are three bikes, and those have been stashed in the brush. The cyclists who left them there are setting out traffic cones on the road. When the right-hand lane has been blocked off, the cyclists walk back to the shoulder to retrieve the object that, over the past few weeks, they have come to refer to as The Machine.

    The $99 Rust-Oleum 2395000 looks like a tiny, four-wheeled wagon with low ground clearance and a handle that angles backward and up from the bed. The cargo area, so low it sits between the wheels rather than above them, is equipped with a mount for spray-paint cans; in the unused space, you can store five or six extra cans upright, ready to swap in when one runs dry. The 2395000 is most commonly used to create parking-lot stripes. (more…)

    Prank War 7: The Half Million Dollar Shot

    Filed under: Practical Jokes and Mischief, Pranksters

    Submitted by Marcy LaViollette from College Humor, March 5, 2009:

    Amir makes a blindfolded half-court basketball shot for $500,000. Or so he thinks.

    Related link (see the other 6 College Humor prank war pranks):

  • CollegeHumor Prank War
  • End of the Road for Bush

    Filed under: Political Pranks

    Update: See end of post for some historical perspective from Steve Lambert…

    Submitted by Marcy LaViollette January 20, 2009:

    Bush Street Disappears in SF Overnight
    by Lori Preuitt
    Bay Area News
    January 20, 2009

    Signs covered with new pres.

    streetsign-200Some pranksters in San Francisco had a little presidential fun overnight by changing out several Bush Street signs into Obama Street.

    They made a cover for the metal signage that looks pretty darn professional.

    Someone tipped off to the stunt just before sunrise on Inauguration Day.

    At least four blocks of signs had been changed in the heart of the city’s Financial District.

    There were also chalk drawings on the ground pointing up to get pedestrians to notice the “change.” (more…)

    Olympics fireworks faked

    Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking

    Submitted by Marcy LaViollette:

    Some Beijing Olympic Fireworks Faked
    by Thomas Claburn
    August 11, 2008

    Because one organization is responsible for filming the Olympics — Beijing Olympic Broadcasting — foreign TV networks had no choice but to accept the altered video.

    img214519298-200.jpgSome of the fireworks seen in television coverage of the opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympics games in Beijing were created digitally, according to a report in The Beijing Times.

    Twenty-nine fiery footsteps traced in the air above Bird’s Nest National Stadium were created using real fireworks. But The Telegraph in the U.K. reports that because event organizers feared they would be unable to capture the pyrotechnics live on camera, a digital effects team spent almost a year preparing a computerized version of the 55-second footstep sequence, which was inserted into the live video feed.

    “Seeing how it worked out, it was still a bit too bright compared to the actual fireworks,” Gao Xiaolong told The Beijing Times, according to Sky News. “But most of the audience thought it was filmed live — so that was mission accomplished.” (more…)

    British Indie Band creates Music Video Using CCTV

    Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking

    Submitted by Marcy LaViollette:

    One of the most difficult things for a DIY label to do is to create an engaging music video on a shoestring budget. The Get Out Clause has found a novel way around this problem using a combination of Manchester’s state of the art CCTV system and a little knowledge of the Freedom of Information & Data Protection Act. The Get Out Clause set up at various locations around Manchester city centre where they knew there would be CCTV coverage and performed their new signal Paper. The footage was then requested under the Freedom of Information & Data Protection Acts and a video was cut together in their home studio.

    Read more about it on here on

    Atari Games Revisited

    Filed under: Satire

    Submitted by Marcy “Still owns an Atari 2600” LaViollette as found at Man, those games of yesteryear never looked so fun…

    Altered Atari Titles

    Altered Atari Titles

    Altered Atari Titles

    Altered Atari Titles

    For more vintage Atari games, visit

    Eiffel Tower Being Redesigned?

    Filed under: Fact or Fiction?, You Decide

    Update, April 7, 2008: interviews David Serero about the success of his Eiffel Tower Design hoax here.

    From Marcy LaViollette: Please tell me this is a prank!

    [Editor: Right. And next the Statue of Liberty’s torch will be replaced with an umbrella due to global warming…]


    From the Serero Architects Web site:

    Serero Architects unveils its design for the extension of the Eiffel Tower top floor. The project will extend the top floor plate of the tower by grafting a high performance carbon Kevlar structure on it. The structure will be temporarily bolted to the slab without requiring any modification of the existing structure. It will expand the usable floor area from 280 m2 to 580m2.

    Related articles:

  • New look for Eiffel Tower, The Guardian, March 24, 2008
  • They Wouldn’t Would They? The Stranger, March 25, 2008
  • Redesigning the Eiffel Tower, DIGG [Ed: In particular, read the first comment]