Antiviral: Here Is What's Bullshit on the Internet This Week

Hey, look. The internet still has lies in it.

No, Skinny Puppy is not demanding payment from the Defense Department

Lots of news organizations are reporting that the electronic-industrial music group Skinny Puppy wants $666,000 from the United States government for allegedly blasting its songs at detainees as part of torture/interrogation regime at Gitmo. (The band said it heard "through a reliable grapevine" that its music was being used this way.)

But Skinny Puppy isn't actually demanding compensation, as outlets like the Guardian and the Wall Street Journal suggest.

Credit to Luke O'Neil for laying out some of the nuances in this story on his Kinja blog. As O'Neil pointed out, the story started gaining momentum after an interview with Skinny Puppy band member cEvin Key appeared in the Phoenix News Times on Jan. 25.

Key characterized the invoice as an abstract concept behind their latest album, which was released in May. He specified: "We never sent it. The album cover is the invoice. The original impetus of recording the album was those two concepts: the torture and the invoice."

But by Feb. 5, Key had changed his story. Here's what he told CTV this week: "At first we were going to make an album cover that was based on an invoice for the U.S. government for musical services for what they had done... At that point we had been coached that we should probably actually bring a suit agains the Department of Defense for illegally using our music... We did send them an invoice."

The Department of Defense says it hasn't received anything of the sort from Skinny Puppy.

"We have not received any such receipt or bill from this band and one wonders how such a bill might reasonably be generated and lawfully delivered," Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. J. Todd Breasseale told me in an email. "Kudos to them for garnering this much free press and circular reporting around the time of what one news source says is the launch of a new album, though."

(It's worth noting that Breasseale also denies the Defense Department plays loud music in interrogations, even though previously declassified government records have clearly documented the use of music in torture, according to the New York Times. "To be clear, those interrogation techniques or approaches that are not authorized... We simply do not use it," Bresseale said. Well, now maybe.)

The publicist for Skinny Puppy, Rey Roldan, told me in an email that the band "did indeed submit an actual invoice," but when I asked to see a copy of it, he said he didn't have one and wasn't sure whether the band did either "since they're on tour." The band's tour began Jan. 24, around the time of that Phoenix News Times interview — back when Key said the invoice was just conceptual.

Whether or not the invoice exists, Skinny Puppy says it just wanted to make a point. It isn't actually expecting payment and certainly not demanding it, though many news organizations characterized it that way. Key told CTV: "We're not actually making a point to make, you know, looking for financial gain."

No, Floyd Mayweather didn't lose $10 million betting on the Broncos

Thousands of people passed along the news that boxer Floyd Mayweather bet more than $10 million on the horrible-at-football Denver Broncos, including journalists like Esquire magazine's acidic Chris Jones, who joked he was betting on Mayweather's bankruptcy as a result. Jones quickly noted the mistake.

Mayweather — who routinely publishes receipts for the bets he places on Facebook — says the rumors weren't true. (Incidentally, the picture of him used in the tweet above was posted to his Facebook page back in 2010.)

"Somebody lied to you all," Mayweather said in an Instagram post. "If I was going to bet, I would have bet on the Seattle Seahawks. I'm the best defensive fighter, it's only right to go with the best defensive team."

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban also did not win $20 million on the safety at the start of the Super Bowl.

Cuban told ESPN he tweeted about the made-up windfall as a "prank."

No, that photo of a half-toilet isn't from the Sochi Olympics

When not dutifully tweeting complaints about their crummy hotel rooms like the delicate flowers they are, reporters on assignment in Sochi (or tweeting about it from back home) have been obsessing over funny-looking toilets. Great work, everybody.

One recent crowd-pleaser is this image of a half-toilet that has been retweeted by thousands of people, including journalists from the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post.

Credit to Daniel Victor of The New York Times for tracking down a HuffPo article from last August that shows the partial commode was part of a caption contest on the website Bits and Pieces back then.

I talked by phone to the man who runs Bits and Pieces — he asked to be identified as Jonco, which is the name he uses online. Jonco said he'd forward my request about the origins of the toilet photo to "Mike from Spain," who sent the image to Bits and Pieces back in August. I'll update this post when I find out more.

The lesson: Stay away from toilets on the internet.

No, New York City still isn't getting 30 inches of snow this weekend. Really.

Antiviral: Here Is What's Bullshit on the Internet This Week

I know we're still traumatized by the polar vortex, and that we are all working hard on relocating NYC to the tropics, but these blizzard rumors are pushing meteorologists to the brink of insanity.

Slate's Eric Holthaus explains that a Gawker article about a vague but terrifying weather forecast from a year ago this week started to make the rounds again on Facebook. As the post worked its way around the web, Gawker accidentally included it in a round-up of popular links from this week.

Holthaus went on a bit of a tweet spree to clear things up.

And if he's wrong, he totally owes us each $1,000. So let's hope he is.

In other possible bullshit, I haven't confirmed whether there's a Yeti roaming around Maine, although a cryptozoologist who got an anonymous tip told a local TV station in the state that it's "not impossible," and by the way this station reported it as news.

But hey, not everything that seems hoaxy actually is. It appears that the come-on-that-is-too-cute-to-be-real letter a little girl sent to LEGO about gender representation actually was legit, according to the company.

"Yes, we did receive a letter, and we responded with a very personal letter," LEGO spokesman Michael McNally told me. He said a statement posted online "is a general comment that was prepared for responding to anyone outside of the correspondence between LEGO Group and the family."