The Museum of Hoaxes
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The Hoax Museum Blog
Hoaxes, mischief, and misinformation throughout history
Several members of a Berlin-based activist group called the Peng Collective recently made a presentation at the Re:publica tech conference in which they pretended to be Google employees and debuted four new "Google Nest" products: Google Trust (free data insurance), Google Bee (a personal drone to watch over you at all times), Google Hug (a kind of matchmaking service), and Google Bye (an online memorial automatically created for you by Google after you die). After the presentation, the Peng people told the audience that it was all a parody designed to emphasize Google's "hypocritical" privacy policies. But they asked the audience to tweet about the new products as if they were real, and some people took…
Posted: Tue May 13, 2014 Comments (1)

When attendees at the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing (held in Toronto) went to the bathroom, they found a sign alerting them that "Behaviour at these toilets is being recorded for analysis. Access your live data at quantifiedtoilets.com." Visiting the Quantified Toilets website (which has the tagline 'Capturing toilet behavior for real-time data and health analysis'), they found a live feed that provided data about all the toilet "deposits" that had been made. The information included how much had been depoisted, whether drugs were detected in it, as well as other bio-information such as pregnancy, infections, blood alcohol, gender of the depositor, and even what…
Posted: Wed Apr 30, 2014 Comments (0)

CodeBabes is a new site that promises to make the process of learning how to write code more fun by using "hot babes" as the instructors in video tutorials. Every time the student advances a level, the "babe" removes an item of clothing. The website explains: "We've developed a revolutionary learning programme that leverages sexual desire and turns it into the most powerful learning mechanism ever known to mankind. Babes and code. You watch the lesson. Absorb the info. Pass the quiz, and your instructor removes one piece of clothing. How much clothing, you ask? Enough to motivate you. But let's not get carried away here. We're an education site."…
Posted: Sat Apr 26, 2014 Comments (5)

Several weeks ago, some wine-industry veterans (Kevin Boyer and Philip James) announced the invention of a gadget that would allow people to make wine at home in only 3 days. They called it the "miracle machine." The gadget seemed somewhat plausible, given the existence of home-brewing kits for beer. Plus it was promoted by a slick video and accompanying website. So over 600 media outlets took the bait and reported it as news. But yesterday, the "inventors" issued a press release revealing that the 'miracle machine' was just a hoax. But it was a hoax for a…
Posted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 Comments (0)


A new website has many people slightly puzzled. It claims to be producing artisanal salamis made from lab-grown meat from celebrity tissue samples. So it's kind of like a celebrity version of Manbeef.com (from way back in 2001) — except that it's celebrity beef and the human meat is grown using in-vitro meat production. Salon.com got a response from "Kevin" on the BiteLabs team who explains that "the site is partly a commentary on food culture, the ethics of meat, and 'the way celebrity culture is consumed.'" So yes, it's a parody site. However, Kevin also insists that they do actually plan to make salami from…
Posted: Thu Feb 27, 2014 Comments (1)

DUPÉ sells bottled fresh air, as well as other products such as bottled moon light, positive thoughts, and "eco-friendly little rays of sunshine." The site (and storefront) were part of a spoof campaign launched a few months ago by Yarra Valley Water, providers of tap water to the Melbourne area. If you try to buy any of DUPÉ's fresh air, you get a message telling you: "Buying bottled air doesn't make sense. It's just like buying bottled water." (Thanks to Patty on WU for the heads up about…
Posted: Sun Dec 15, 2013 Comments (2)

If you need a meringue top for a pie, and you need it fast, then look no further than eMeringue.com. They're the "Internet's #1 meringue delivery service." Their fleet of eMeringue trucks are gassed up and ready to hit the highway, to deliver your meringue top directly to your door. eMeringue was an April Fool's Day hoax by the Motley Fool investment people. But it dates back to 1999, so I'm impressed that they've kept the site up all this time. If you look at the eMeringue welcome page, you'll see a photo of "eMeringue chef Serge LeGrenouille." My wife is the food geek in the family,…
Posted: Fri Nov 22, 2013 Comments (0)

I haven't seen anything on English-language sites about this, but according to dichtbij.nl (with a little help from Google translate), a site calling itself "Green Light District" appeared online several months ago. It claimed that the municipality of Haarlemmermeer in North Holland was going to put small green windmills on top of 30,000 lampposts in order to generate power for the lights, thereby creating a "green light district". Any excess power would be routed to the electrical grid. But it turns out that Haarlemmermeer didn't actually have any plans to put up these lamppost windmills. The site was a publicity stunt designed to promote the "Greenest Idea of…
Posted: Thu Oct 10, 2013 Comments (1)

"Is Sparky a sex addict?" the website petcondoms.org asks visitors. "Spot the signs!" The site also offers advice on "how to put on a pet condom". A few clicks on some of the links soon reveals that, no, this site isn't really selling pet condoms. It was recently launched by the San Francisco SPCA as a way to educate the public about the importance of spaying and neutering your pet. The point being that trying to put a condom on your pet is an ineffective way of preventing unwanted births. It's actually not the first time the internet has seen a website about condoms for pet. Back in 2005…
Posted: Thu Oct 10, 2013 Comments (0)

Yesterday, rememberthe13th.com revealed the "big discovery" it had promised. It turned out to be some guy rapping "I'm a purple ninja and I'm so cool." I wasted a minute of my life watching it.
Posted: Mon Oct 07, 2013 Comments (3)

According to the website rememberthe13th.com, NASA is going to announce something BIG on the 13th of November: NASA has made a historic discovery that will shake the entire planet. This announcement will be released to the media on November 13th, 2013. It will be a day to remember and One for the history books. Spread the word to your family & friends and sign up to stay updated. However, a recent update to the site now says that the date of the big reveal has been moved forward to October 6th "Due to change in plans." A post on abovetopsecret.com gives some of the (alleged) backstory…
Posted: Fri Oct 04, 2013 Comments (4)

"Every white person needs a black friend," blackfriendconnect.com tells us. And if you don't have a black friend already, they've got you covered. For a reasonable fee, they'll provide a black friend who's willing to "give you a hug, fist bump, high-five or whichever you prefer," and will also attend "your favorite white concert" with you. The joke here seems obvious enough that there's no need to prove the site is a hoax. But if you really want to prove it to yourself, try placing an order for one of these black friends. There's a phone number listed on the site, in the top left corner. I googled it,…
Posted: Wed Aug 21, 2013 Comments (0)

On June 7, an Occupy Seattle activist, Logan Price, posted a video online that appeared to show an embarrassing scene from a private party of Shell Oil executives. Price explained, on his twitter page, that he had managed to infiltrate the party, which was intended to celebrate the launch of Shell's Arctic drilling program, and which was hosted at the top of the Seattle Space Needle. The centerpiece of the party was a sculpture shaped like an iceberg, topped by a miniature oil rig that dispensed drinks for the guests. In the video, an elderly lady could be seen approaching the model rig, cup in hand, ready to be served the first…
Posted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 Comments (0)

The consumer affairs office of the state of Massachusetts has created a series of phony websites designed to teach people how to avoid online scams. The sites advertise products such as work-at-home deals, weight-loss products, and free trips. If anyone tries to order something from these sites, they're directed to a page identifying it as a scam and telling them how they could have spotted the scam. My favorite one is the "Envelope Elf" site. The SEC did something similar back in 2002. It created a hoax site for McWhortle Enterprises, Inc. The idea was to teach investors that just because a company has a website, that doesn't mean…
Posted: Fri May 18, 2012 Comments (1)

For over three years, Eternal Earth-Bound Pets has been offering peace of mind to Rapture believers. Should the Rapture come, and the devout are whisked away up to Heaven, this service will take care of their pets that are left behind — for a small fee of $135 per pet. But now Bloomberg News is reporting that the business was all just a hoax concocted by Bart Centre, a retired retail executive in New Hampshire, in order to promote his book, The Atheist Camel Chronicles. Bloomberg quotes him as saying: The entire thing was a hoax. What we call on the Internet a poe, a spoof, a parody, a complete fiction.…
Posted: Sat Mar 17, 2012 Comments (2)

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