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The author of "Ghetto Hikes," which is a twitter feed and accompanying website, offers this description of it:

I'm 28. I have a full time job leading urban kids (of all races) on nature hikes. I simply write down shit they say.

It's kind of obvious that it's a parody in the style of "Shit My Dad Says," but the Village Voice confirms it isn't real:

Looks like Ghetto Hikes is a parody account -- and an unfunny one at that. According to a just-released tweet, Men's Humor and Ghetto Hikes were registered by the same person.

The most surprising thing about Ghetto Hikes is that it has over 430,000 followers!

Categories: Exploration/Travel, Social Networking Sites, Websites
Posted by Alex on Fri Feb 24, 2012
Comments (0)
Someone has gone to a bunch of trouble to make it seem as if Dell produced an ad featuring "Visual Innovator" Clayton Sotos. The ad has high production values, and there's an accompanying website showcasing some of Sotos's work. The joke is that Sotos photographs people farting.

Dell insists they're not responsible for the ad. They posted this statement on their twitter page: "This video is in no way affiliated with Dell, but it's great to see creative professionals get inspiration from using our products. Our dell.com/takeyourownpath program is all about celebrating people who take their own professional path. Regarding this parody, we consider imitation to be the sincerest form of flattery."

Gizmodo claims that music and media producer Christian Heuer is behind the mock ad. (links: gizmodo.com, money.msn.co.nz)



Categories: Gross, Photos/Videos, Websites
Posted by Alex on Thu Feb 23, 2012
Comments (0)
As far as niche dating sites go, you can't get much more niche than SeaCaptainDate.com. It describes itself as "the only place for Sea Captains to connect with men and women who share a love of the ocean."



Now I'm willing to believe that there are niche dating sites out there, but SeaCaptainDate.com seems a little too weird to be real. Is it really just an elaborate joke?

I'm not the first to ponder this question. The site first attracted attention back in Jan 2011, when articles about it appeared on nerve.com, time.com, and howaboutwe.com (among others). These sites expressed some doubts, but overall leaned toward the site being real.

Most recently, jezebel.com weighed in on the matter -- and they too decided the site seemed to be real, since they managed to contact a spokesperson for the site who, in turn, connected them with a woman who claimed she had actually been on a date with a sea captain through the site.

Jezebel.com conceded that both the site rep and the woman could have been in on the gag, but noted, "if that's true, someone out there is trying really, really hard to make us believe that you can sign up to date sea captains on the internet. And that's a labor of love in itself."

However, I still have my doubts. Here are the things that have my hoax-sense buzzing:

1) The site is registered anonymously. This, in itself, doesn't mean anything, except that anonymity is the preferred method-of-operation of hoaxers.

2) The site was registered in 2010, but it claims that its business has existed since 2007. It explains that it used to be called AtlantisDate.com. However, I can't find any evidence that AtlantisDate.com ever existed before 2011. According to the info in the WHOIS database, atlantisdate.com was only created in Jan 2011, which is a bit odd if the site supposedly existed since 2007.

3) The gallery of sea captains who are members of the site doesn't seem to have changed at all since Jan 2011. So if the site is real, its member base is pretty static. Doesn't appear to be getting much new business.

4) Finally, check out the Sea Captain Date Song -- and listen to the lyrics:



There's a place to go
To find the lady of your dreams
And sail into the sunset
Where no one hears her screams

I'm sorry, but no real dating business would be making jokes about its members murdering women on the high seas.

The site credits the Sea Captain Date Song to "acclaimed songwriter and musician" Cole Gladis. Coincidentally, Gladis lives in Philadelphia, where Sea Captain Date also says that it has its offices. I'm guessing the entire site is a joke dreamed up by Gladis.
Categories: Sex/Romance, Websites
Posted by Alex on Tue Feb 21, 2012
Comments (3)
The brilliant (or incredibly stupid) idea behind CLOO is to use social networking to make it easier to find somewhere to pee in big cities. The CLOO website explains:

CLOO' is based on one simple truth— we all have to pee. Though in urban cities finding a clean, available restroom is difficult & frustrating. That’s where CLOO' comes in.

CLOO' is a community of registered users who choose to share their bathrooms and make city-living easier, while earning a small profit. Using social media connections, CLOO' shows what friends you have in common with the host, turning a stranger’s loo into a friend of a friend’s loo.


cloo

It's one of those concepts that raises so many problematic issues that you have to wonder whether it's real or just a joke. And people have been asking this question on twitter. To which CLOO responds that they're "quite real".

I suspect CLOO is meant to be taken seriously. There have been other strange toilet ideas that turned out to be real. Remember the Microsoft iLoo?

However, in an interview with CNET the people behind CLOO — Hillary Young and Deanna McDonald — admit that they have no funding to take their concept out of a prototype stage. Which makes its reality status a moot point. (Thanks, Bob!)
Categories: Gross, Social Networking Sites, Websites
Posted by Alex on Thu Sep 08, 2011
Comments (3)
The Premise: A couple claims to be allowing the internet to vote on whether or not they'll have an abortion.

This has been getting a lot of attention on blogs over the past few days, and by now it's been definitively proven to be a hoax. Kevin Hoffman points out what I think is the most telling piece of evidence. The couple registered the domain name birthornot.com over two months before the baby was supposedly conceived. Also, the man behind the site has been identified as Pete Arnold, who is apparently a well-known right-wing troll.

So, in other words, this is just another cynical shock-style hoax designed to be offensive. (Thanks, Bob!)
Categories: Birth/Babies, Websites
Posted by Alex on Tue Nov 23, 2010
Comments (17)
Yesterday the GOP debuted its own URL shortener. Wired.com describes the results:

Almost immediately after it launched yesterday, pranksters began using the service to link to controversial or ironically-intended websites such as the official site of the American Communist Party, a bondage website and a webpage advertising a sex toy in the likeness of Barack Obama. GOP.am started blocking such links apparently at some point Tuesday morning, and the GOP.am homepage is now offline.

Possibly the first branded URL shortener (Google also launched its own URL shortener yesterday afternoon), GOP.am was designed by the R.N.C.’s new media consultants, Political Media, to work somewhat like bit.ly in that it shortens URLs so that they can be more easily exchanged via short messaging services like Twitter.

But unlike bit.ly, GOP.am includes a toolbar at the top of the screen that follows the user as they click through to see whatever page the link goes to, and an animation of Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele walking around on the lower right as if he’s showing off the website — particularly awkward when that website is the alt.com bondage site.

How could they not have foreseen this would be the result if they created a URL shortener that made it look as if the GOP was endorsing any link a user entered?
Categories: Politics, Pranks, Websites
Posted by Alex on Tue Dec 15, 2009
Comments (1)
Mass: We Pray claims to be a new video game that allows you to simulate going to church, without ever leaving home. Shacknews.com reports receiving a press release from Prayer Works Interactive, the maker of this purported product. An excerpt follows:

Mass: We Pray is the first of many worship-themed games in development for Prayer Works Interactive. Just like with any videogame, families can use a television as a monitor to play. Then, they can use the CROSS, a proprietary, wireless, cross-shaped controller to participate in 24 unique and exhilarating rituals. Make the Sign of the Cross, sprinkle Holy Water, take Collection and even give Holy Communion. Every motion and nuance of a blessing or ritual is detected in three dimensions and replicated on-screen.

Can this be real? As often with claims of a religious nature, Poe's law rears its head. (The real religious stuff is often so crazy that it's indistinguishable from the spoof stuff). But let's review some of the typical signs that a website is a hoax:
  1. The site makes a claim that seems outrageous or absurd.
  2. It advertises a product, but doesn't actually allow you to buy it.
  3. It's registered anonymously, and no business address is provided.
  4. Although you can't buy the main product, you can buy a related t-shirt or mug.
  5. Google ads (or other unrelated ads) are posted to profit from traffic to the site.
An outrageous or absurd claim? Check. You can't buy Mass: We Pray, but the company claims that on Friday, Nov. 20 you'll be able to pre-order it. (Let's wait and see if they hold true to that promise.) The website is also registered anonymously through Domain Discreet, and Prayer Works Interactive offers no business address.

That's three signs of being a hoax. So my guess is that Mass: We Pray is probably fake. But the real test, of course, will be to wait and see if they ever offer this thing for sale.

Below is a video demonstration of the game.



Update: On November 20 Mass: We Pray was revealed to be a hoax. (No surprise there!) The pre-order link, which previously had been dead, became clickable, leading to an ad for the video game Dante's Inferno.

(Thanks, Bob!)
Categories: Advertising, Religion, Websites
Posted by Alex on Thu Nov 19, 2009
Comments (9)
MSNBC has posted a list of the "10 most heinous hoaxes on the Net." Though in the intro they admit they added in "a handful of amusing ones." Here's the list (minus their descriptions): I don't think "Bigfoot's body" counts as a true internet hoax. Sure, people discussed it on the internet, but it was also discussed on TV, radio, and in newspapers. As for heinous internet hoaxes, a few of the ones they missed include Manbeef.com, Marry Our Daughter, and Lcpl. Boudreaux’s Sign
Categories: Websites
Posted by Alex on Mon Nov 09, 2009
Comments (1)
The Manhattan Airport Foundation is a hoax site purporting to promote the conversion of New York's Central Park into an airport.

Clues that the site is a hoax: a) it's registered anonymously; and b) the foundation lists its address as "233 Broadway, 58th Floor, New York, New York." 233 Broadway is the Woolworth Building, which only has 57 floors.

Apparently, the Huffington Post didn't realize the site was a joke, and posted a link on its front page about the plan to build an airport in Central Park. (via gawker)
Categories: Websites
Posted by Alex on Wed Jul 22, 2009
Comments (4)
A new hoax website advertises the World's First USB-powered Chainsaw:

Current materials used on bodies of chainsaws are too heavy for office use. Lighter materials, however, could cause the vertical axis of the guide bar to shift when pressure is applied onto the saw chain. Research and development introduced several innovations to offer an optimal blend of tough plastic and lightweight alloy.



It's said to be shipping in September. The real question is who created this page and why. It's registered anonymously (typical for a hoax site). We'll just have to wait and see who takes credit for it. (via wired)
Categories: Technology, Websites
Posted by Alex on Thu Jul 09, 2009
Comments (12)
Recently a woman who identified herself only as "April's Mom" started blogging about how her unborn child had been diagnosed as terminally ill. And yet she had decided to go through with the pregnancy anyway. Her blog quickly became popular with the anti-abortion crowd. On Sunday "Little April Rose" was born, but died soon after.

But skeptics noticed something strange about the picture of Little April that April's Mom posted on her site. Little April looked exactly like a reborn doll called Avery manufactured by Bountiful Baby.

Soon after, April's Mom was unmasked as Beccah Beushausen of Mokena, Illinois. Her entire blog had been fiction. The Chicago Tribune has more details.
Categories: Birth/Babies, Websites
Posted by Alex on Fri Jun 12, 2009
Comments (8)
MomSourcing: "You know you should call your mom on Mother's Day. But in today's fast-paced world, between work, hobbies, and "me time," it can be hard to squeeze in. We can help. Outsource your Mother's Day responsibilities to MomSourcing and let us make the call for you." According to Boing Boing, it's a joke. But I wonder how long before it proves to be a case of satirical prophecy.
Categories: Websites
Posted by Alex on Mon May 11, 2009
Comments (1)
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