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

Oh internet! Oh glorious fountain of lies and truth, oh tangled network of trolls and heroes, oh noxious abyss of Photoshopped Harry Styles photos. You are so wonderful yet so full of shit.

No, this is not a map of every state's favorite band

Some headlines are misleading; others are outright wrong. And that map shared by every single human on Facebook and even the eggs on Twitter who had never previously tweeted is not a depiction of each state's favorite band.

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

That's according to Paul Lamere of The Echo Nest, who did the research that was simplified to the point of inaccuracy in headlines by Business Insider, Time, BuzzFeed, Gawker (gulp), and elsewhere.

The map reflects data that instead shows a state's most distinctive music preferences compared with other states. In other words, it reveals the biggest listening differences from state to state. A look at every state's favorite band — that is, the music played most often in a given state — wouldn't be that interesting because you'd see the same thing over and over.

"Those charts are pretty boring because they're almost identical to national charts," Lamere said in a phone interview. "You see Jay Z and Macklemore."

Lamere says it's helpful to think of the project in the context of food. If you ask around the United States about most-eaten foods, cheeseburgers and pizza might come up a lot. But if you don't count those everywhere-staples, more distinctive regional eats will emerge — Spam musubi in Honolulu, soft pretzels in Philly, kolaches in Central Texas, etc.

He also says it's been near impossible to set the record straight after early headlines took off. "They really set the arc for the story, and once it's on that arc, it's hard to change it," he told me. "Despite trying to get the story straight... you end up with lots and lots of tweets and Facebook posts about a map of 'favorite artists.'"


No, 37 people did not die of marijuana overdoses in Colorado the day reefer was legalized

The police chief in Annapolis, Md., testified against a bill that would legalize marijuana in his state, citing an article that reported 37 overdose deaths in Colorado on the day marijuana was legalized there.

Only problem: His source was the The Daily Currant, which makes up the stuff it publishes. A reporter for the Capital Gazette later caught up with the police chief, who said: "After conducting additional research, it appears that was not accurate at all."


No, this isn't a photo of Manuel Neuer and Mesut Özil playing soccer together as kids

Yes, famous footballers Manuel Neuer and Mesut Özil went to the same school as kids, but the widely shared team photo of them is a fake. Reddit user Vikistormborn says he circled two faces on an old class photo he found of Ozil, then claimed the second boy was Neuer as a joke. (Here's his tweet.)

But the photo ricocheted around Twitter and duped media outlets like Yahoo, as well as individual editors and reporters from all over the world.

Credit to Online Journalism Blog for laying out what happened.


About that leaked script from the Kanye West/Bret Easton Ellis film project...

I don't even know.

This apparent script excerpt seems so over-the-top fake that it should be obvious, but SlamXHype writer Brian Alexander insists to me it's legit. (Besides, the idea that Ellis and West are collaborating in the first place is kind of surreal.)

Alexander told me that he "freaked out" when he heard about the collaboration because he knows someone who works for Ellis.

"I reached out to her, asking/begging her for any information about it," he said in an email. "After a long back-and-forth and a lot of coaxing her to put what she termed as her 'not incredible' salary on the line, she came back with an iPhone image of the page we posted in our article."

(Alexander declined my request to get in touch with the person who provided the script, but says he's working on getting more pages. And I haven't been able to get a hold of Ellis or West, despite multiple attempts.)

For what it's worth, the all-caps handwriting on the screenplay really only vaguely resembles other snippets of Kanye's handwriting that are out there.

Paper magazine published the page before updating its story to say the leaked script excerpt is apparently fake — but that update was based on a tip from another writer who didn't cite a source, according to a staffer at Paper.


In other hoaxy news, I'm surprised to report that the $700 a month backyard-tent rental in Berkeley actually appears to be real. (I knooow.) The widely shared listing has been removed from Craigslist but a similar ad is still up on Airbnb, where you can read a bunch of reviews from people who have apparently stayed in the tent.

I'm still prettttty skeptical that there's so much pressure to be bearded in Brooklyn that plastic surgeons are seeing an uptick in facial-hair transplants. And seriously how do so many media outlets believe the guy who says he's had pizza for almost every meal for 25 years. (Sorry, guy.)

The international science community is calling bullshit on Egypt's claims that it cured AIDS. Deadspin explains how a couple of people from Montana bought their way onto Dominica's fake Olympic ski team. And academics figured out that a bunch of gibberish papers by robots got published in international databases as legit. Plus! A mayor in Canada reveals he didn't tweet about tacos even though everybody thought he did.

Also, today is not the day Marty McFly went to the future. Neither was yesterday, or the day before, or the day before, or the day before. So stop sharing this shit and get it right.