15-year old Tom Vandetta found a neat trick described on the internet: how to upload a fake press release to a free wire service, and get Google News to pick it up and disseminate it, thereby making it look like real news. Of course, he couldn't resist trying this trick out, so he decided to write a release from Google itself announcing that they were hiring him:
Soon word of Google's hiring of a 15-year-old kid was posted on Digg.com, and the attention of the internet (or at least a small part of it) turned on Tom Vandetta
. As the hoax spread, Tom wrote in his blog
: "My gmail account now has 130 unread email messages, as opposed to the 5 i normally get daily. My myspace has tons of friends requests, as opposed to the 3 i get monthly. This is all going out of control and I am regretting every bit of it."
Fake press releases have long been a favorite tool of hoaxers. One of the first big hoaxes on the internet, back in 1994, was the Microsoft Buys the Catholic Church
press release that circulated via email. And plenty of people have, like Tom Vendetta, used the free wire services to upload fake releases. (For instance, there was that press release about Tom Cruise lecturing on the modern science of mental health
that I posted about a few months ago.) All of which underlines the importance of Reality Rule 6.1 (from Hippo Eats Dwarf): Just because you read it on the internet doesn't mean it's true