Matt Novak, writing for Gizmodo Australia
, notes that 100 years ago a news story circulated reporting that Frank Rockwell, the mayor of Akron, Ohio, had written a letter to Akron's future mayor in 2014:
Fort Wayne Sentinel
- Jan 24, 1914
Mayor Rockwell wrote a letter yesterday to the person who will be mayor of Akron 100 years hence. The epistle tells the future mayor of the present debt, the names of all the city officials, the problems confronting the municipality and the political situation in Akron in 1914. The letter will be sealed, addressed to "His Honor, Mayor of Akron, 2014," marked with instructions not to be molested or opened until that year and placed in a bank vault to be held for a century. The salutation in the letter will fit whether a man or woman mayor.
However, Akron's mayor never did write such a letter. The report was a hoax. But the correction denying the hoax was only ever printed in Akron.
What was the point of this hoax? Who knows! But it does show that fake news stories are not a recent invention.