It’s no secret that you shouldn’t believe everything you read on the internet. Considering the source and what the story claims are just a couple of things we all know we’re supposed to do. Most internet hoaxes and gossip rumors are easily spotted and no one falls for the “you’re the millionth visitor” or “free laptop” gag anymore. However, every now and then a story comes up that just seems real and spreads so fast and to so many people, it almost becomes part of common knowledge, that is, until it’s debunked as untrue. The tabloids and internet rumor starters are getting smarter(or we’re getting dumber) and are becoming more and more likely to fool readers.
The public has been convinced of quite a few untrue things in the past and will likely get tricked a few more times in the future. There are sites dedicated to reporting false news stories was well as those dedicated to debunking myths and hoaxes. In the past few years, the world was convinced of quite a few falsities. From celebrity deaths to redhead extinction and even to Facebook membership fees(oh my!), internet trolls have duped us into believing their crazy stories. Here’s a list of internet myths that we all actually believed for a second. Don’t feel gullible if you thought they were true up to now, though.
10. Alexandria’s Genesis aka Purple Eye Disease
The myth of this genetic mutation that everyone wants first came about on the internet in 2005 when a girl claimed she knew someone with the disease on a forum. It was also spread around the web that the first recorded case of Alexandria’s Genesis was a woman named Alexandria Augustine in 1329 London who was born with the so-called disease.
The side-effects of the condition?
-The eyes turn from blue to purple within six months of birth
-It causes pale skin that cannot be sunburned
-Females with the disorder don’t menstruate but are still fertile
-Apart from the usually brunette hair on the head (scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes, and nostrils) the rest of the body is hairless
-Aging stops around 50
-Those affected live up to 150 years-old
-It prevents excessive weight gain
-It also prevents those affected from producing much waste (no matter how much they ate)
Unfortunately, this too good to be true sounding “disease” is in fact too good to be true. It actually came from a piece of Daria fan fiction written by Cameron Aubernon in 1998.
9. Facebook Membership Fee
In 2011, a chain letter got around that stated Facebook would start charging users who didn’t post the letter on their status. It was posted after a new profile layout was revealed at Facebook’s F8 conference. The chain letter stated:
IT IS OFFICIAL. IT WAS EVEN ON THE NEWS. FACEBOOK WILL START CHARGING DUE TO THE NEW PROFILE CHANGES. IF YOU COPY THIS ON YOUR WALL YOUR ICON WILL TURN BLUE AND FACEBOOK WILL BE FREE FOR YOU. PLEASE PASS THIS MESSAGE ON, IF NOT YOUR ACCOUNT WILL BE DELETED IF YOU DO NOT PAY.
It spread like wildfire and the rumors that Facebook would start charging continued to grow and scare users. Since then, there have been even more murmurs of possible Facebook fees. All that’s needed to confirm the chain letter is just a rumor? Going to the Facebook login page, where under “Sign Up,” it says, “It’s free and always will be.”
8. Redheads Are Going Extinct!
Well, not really. That’s just what all the headlines of credible and some not so credible sources are saying. The truth is that gingers are becoming rarer and rarer these days. However, red hair color is simply a recessive gene and there are plenty of people on Earth that carry it – four percent of people in the world carry it, to be exact. While two redheads are more likely to have a redheaded child, two brunettes who carry the gene can have a redheaded child as well. While redheaded-ness may become rarer and rarer, Barry Star, Ph.D., a genetics professor at Stanford University, told The Boston Globe “they’ll [redheads] be here forever.”
7. A Woman Sued The Man Who Saved Her From Drowning
This rumor started in June 2015 when an article attributed to Cassidy Boon was posted in which she stated she would sue the man who saved her from drowning “because what he did is literally the definition of assault – he exerted his Patriarchal power over me and did stuff to my body without my consent.” The story was posted on The Stately Harold, though, a site that clearly states they publish fictional stories in their About page. Luckily, it is a hoax, but it made a whole bunch of people upset and the rumored lawsuit sparked outrage on many a social media page.
6. Halloween 2015 Was The 666th Halloween
As spooky and delightful as that sounds, this rumor is false. It all started on Twitter in September 2015 when people began tweeting the lie not too long after one that stated Halloween 2015 would occur on Friday the 13th for the first time in 666 years(which is impossible seeing as Halloween is always on October 31). It’s still unknown when exactly Halloween originated and there were similar celebrations as early as the 800s. The type of celebration we know today, though, was earliest recorded in the 1920s when Minnesota put on the first Halloween celebration. While there’s no telling exactly how old the celebration of Halloween is, it’s very unlikely that this year’s was the 666th though that would’ve been a cool and creepy milestone.
5. Law Made it Illegal to Work in France After 6 PM
They wish! The 2014 rumor that a French law had been passed that restricted employees from checking work-related emails after 6 PM gained so much traction that Axelle Lemaire, the new French minister for the digital economy, had to tweet a denial on April 13, 2014. The rumor stemmed not from a new law but from a new labor agreement signed on April 1st by unions and employers in the high-tech and consulting field. Nowhere in the agreement does it state a 6 PM cutoff and only mentions “obligation to disconnect communications tools”, after an employee has worked a 13-hour day.
4. 76-Year-Old Woman Kicked Out of KFC For Breastfeeding Adult Son
Gagging and other disgusted reactions ensued across the nation after this rumor sprouted. There are so many things wrong with this story, though. For one, women lactate only after giving birth, which isn’t likely to happen any time around 76. Somehow the article turned into a feeding frenzy on the internet and people all over freaked out and, wanting the people near and dear to them freak out as well, continued to share the piece of “news” on their social media pages. The story was shared by more than 100,000 people nonetheless and left people with an unwelcome image in their heads.
3. Morgan Freeman’s Dead… Again
Morgan Freeman is still alive and well. His death hoax of 2010 was unlike that of many other celebrity death hoaxes in that it seemed valid and was reported by several credible news sites. The original tweet is said to have come from CNN, though they deny it. The September 2010 tweet stated “RT @CNN: Breaking News: actor Morgan Freeman has passed away in his Burbank home.” The tweet was then retweeted by a fair amount of credible news sources and people freaked out. People are again freaking out as just on November 20 an “R.I.P Morgan Freeman” Facebook page attracted more than a million likes. The About section of the page stated “At about 11 a.m. ET on Thursday (November 19, 2015), our beloved actor Morgan Freeman passed away. Morgan Freeman was born on June 1, 1937, in Memphis. He will be missed but not forgotten. Please show your sympathy and condolences by commenting on and liking this page.” His reps squashed the rumor and fans are getting tired of Morgan Freeman death hoaxes.
2. We Eat 8 Spiders in Our Sleep a Year
No, we don’t. Phew. This “fun fact” came about during an experiment to show how readily people accept internet rumors to be true. In a 1993 PC Professional article, columnist Lisa Holst wrote about the so-called “facts” that were circulating the internet and how believed they were by the gullible public. To prove her point, Holst made up her own list of ridiculous “facts.” Among those facts was the statistic on the average person’s swallowing eight spiders per year, which she “took from a collection of common misbeliefs printed in a 1954 book on insect folklore.”
If you’re still worried, just know that there are several reasons why it’s implausible you would ingest spiders in your sleep. For one, the kinds of spiders in your house are likely “either tending their webs or hunting in nonhuman-infested areas,” according to the article. Plus, the vibrations a sleeping person makes are similar to the kind that warn spiders of danger.
1. Macaulay Culkin’s Death
Macaulay Culkin, thankfully, is also alive and well. However, it was rumored in November 2014 that the actor/musician had passed. The rumor said that Culkin had been found dead in his apartment. Once the Home Alone star heard the news of his own reported passing, he poked fun at the gossip and posted photos of himself on tour with his band, The Pizza Underground. In more than one image, he’s pretending to be dead while someone holds him up. In others, he looks happy as ever. He was a good sport about it, though, and used a humorous way to prove the rumors false.