Yesterday, thousands of Bernie Sanders’ supporters began sharing what appeared to be a straightforward New York Times article—which you can read here—about Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren’s decision to endorse Sanders for President of the United States. Attributed to Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns, both of whom are real Times reporters, the piece was written in convincing Times-ese, down to the headline (“Warren Endorses Sanders, Breaking With Colleagues”), lead sentence (“In a potentially decisive turn...”), and perfunctory quotes from the Sanders campaign and several disappointed Clinton surrogates. There were two major problems with the article, though: It wasn’t a real Times report, and Warren has not in fact endorsed Sanders.
Today is April Fool's Day, a magical 24-hour spell during which companies spend lots of money to make stupid changes to their websites as a joke instead of as a business decision. In the spirit of public service we'd like to remind you: Don't trust anything you hear today. "Google Nose BETA," the search engine for scents? No. YouTube shutting down in preparation for finding the best video of all time? No. Twitter charging for vowels? No. Google Maps' new "treasure map" setting? Not real, and also not really even a joke. As usual, tech companies are the worst offenders in the publicity-in-exchange-for-saying-things-that-aren't-true game, but marketers have been gearing up for this for weeks, too. And TV: Good Morning America had a segment on a gorilla language this morning, and the Today Show had a Chris Brown "Breezy Flash Mob" complete with an interview. (Oh, no, wait: Today actually interviewed a violent and unrepentant abuser and hosted his insane fans outside its studio.) The prize for politics-related April Fool's is a tie between Sen. Ted Cruz who made a horrifically ugly April Fool's image macro for his Twitter, and the Yale Daily News, which straight-facedly announces that Hillary Clinton is joining the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs. (Ah: that famous New Haven sense of humor.) I don't have a clear memory of anything that happened before, say, 2005, so I have to ask: Was April Fool's Day always this excruciating? Or is this all—the endless stream of bad non-jokes, the news coverage of the bad non-jokes, and the grumpy bloggers whining about the above—the internet's fault? April Fool's! I already know the answer: Human beings have always been embarrassing and unfunny, well before the internet. [Lifehacker | NYT | USAT]
Everyone has been passing around a fake cover of People magazine that has Twilight hunklet Taylor Lautner on the cover saying he's "Out and Proud." I hate to break it to you, but the fake cover that looks like a fake (a good fake, but a fake) is fake. Taylor Lautner is not "out and proud." I'm not going to say he's not gay (he isn't) but this cover is faker than JWOWW's boobs reading a James Frey book. Even Gossip Cop says so. Oh, Gossip Cop weighed in. Case closed!
Yesterday, we published an item based on a former Newt Gingrich staffer's claim that Gingrich assembled his 1.3 million Twitter followers—a number that he's taken to bragging about—in part by buying fake Twitter followers. A lot of people did not think that was true! But today social networking search firm PeekYou announced that it had crunched the data and come to the conclusion that roughly 106,055 of Gingrich's million-plus followers are real people. The rest are fakes.