The Museum of Hoaxes
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Rachael Ray cooks her family and her dog
Snowball the Monster Cat, 2000
The Berners Street Hoax, 1810
Pierre Brassau, Monkey Artist, 1964
The Crown Prince Regent of Thulia, 1954
The worms inside your face
The Great Electric Sugar Swindle, 1884
The boy with the golden tooth, 1593
Lord Gordon-Gordon, robber of the robber barons, 1871
Paul Krassner's Stereophonic Hoax, 1960
Massage Milk Censored
Status: Apparently a hoax
Here's news of a hoax from China. (There seems to be more of them coming from there lately.) Massage Milk (great name!) is one of the most popular blogs in China. It was featured in a Newsweek article last month about Chinese bloggers. But a few days ago its site went blank, and the assumption was that it had been forced offline by the Chinese government. At least, this is what news organizations such as the BBC assumed. Turns out everyone was wrong. The disappearing-blog-act was just a hoax. Wang Xiaofeng, the author of Massage Milk, faxed a statement to the Interfax news agency explaining that:

I just wanted to make fun of Western journalists? [content] doesn't need to be serious on the Internet. I don't like it that Western media take a distorted view of China, though China does have problems. I thought that if I closed my blog, it would stir their imagination and then they would begin blah blah. It really is as expected. So let's they have an April Fool's day in advance."

The question is: Is Wang Xiaofeng now telling the truth? Was his site's closure really an early April Fool's Day prank, or did the Chinese government actually have a hand in what happened? Some people think the latter is the case. If it was a prank, it does seem kind of pointless (after all, why shouldn't people have believed the Chinese state would have done something like that? It's not like China is known for its open internet policy), which lends credence to the government-censorship theory.

Update: The Wall Street Journal has posted an article about the Massage Milk hoax. (And I should note that a second Chinese blog, Milk Pig, also participated in the self-shutdown hoax.) The WSJ notes that: "Beijing-based journalist Wang Xiaofeng of Massage Milk says he shut his blog down to make a point about freedom of speech -- just one directed at the West instead of at Beijing. He calls the Western press "irresponsible" and says that the hoax was designed "to give foreign media a lesson that Chinese affairs are not always the way you think." Quite frankly, I don't get it. Is shutting his own blog down supposed to prove to everyone in the West that China actually allows more freedom of speech than journalists over here supposed?
Categories: Politics, Websites
Posted by The Curator on Fri Mar 10, 2006
Comments (15)
Somebody wants attention!
Posted by Mike  in  USA  on  Fri Mar 10, 2006  at  03:51 PM
After I chose to save the world from mental devastation: let s censor them before they kick our ass with stupid tricks and awful websites. Chinese people crush students and kittens and they eat babies, too. Fuck them! Censor them! What do they want in the World Wide Web?
Posted by aeiou  in  Rio de Janeiro  on  Fri Mar 10, 2006  at  11:11 PM
Okay: before anyone else answers to my last post: there s a lot of shit going on in china, and probably in iraq and probably on thousand other places in the world. The www is a worldwide network of information. Chinese people should be free to do whatever they want, but everything I ve seen from China until now is whether disgusting (crushing students or kittens) or not understandable (i cannot read chinese as I m only able to understand 5 to 6 "western" languages). What the f*** is going on in that country? All I hear about China in the official media is contracts and money and this or that, but nobody seems to be upset about hearing of some hundreds (or thousands) a year killed (means: shot) in public stadions (!!!), their dead corpses sold to people like that german guy who s exhibiting dead people in public as a form of art. The chinese themselves are even one step further (in arts) by exhibiting dead bodies and babies on exhibitions and crushing kittens for fun. What the f*** is going on in this world!? And then this story about the website that "maybe" got closed down, but afterwards it s "maybe" just a (bad) joke. Cannot someone tell them that this is not really funny. I don t think it s funny, either way (bad joke or really happened). I m a really big fan of chinese food, of chinese buddhism (zen) and i-ching and kung-fu and whatever. But everything else I can see from there is just sick. Could somebody explain this to me? Please?
Posted by aeiou  in  Rio de Janeiro  on  Fri Mar 10, 2006  at  11:30 PM
yep
Posted by ahh yeah  on  Fri Mar 10, 2006  at  11:50 PM
before something gets misunderstood: i like chinese people, i know some chinese people and they re alright and good friends, too, but something s wrong over there. somethings always wrong anywhere but all i hear from china always is wrong. i dunno if it s a "lack of understanding from my western point of view", as I d describe my person as someone who can understand nearly everything (and who gets often bashed for this as I really can understand any action in some way), but China seems to be just like a black hole and if some information comes from there it is illogical or in-human or cruel or has to do with money. And I d describe myself as left wing, fuck...
Posted by aeiou  in  Rio de Janeiro  on  Sat Mar 11, 2006  at  12:15 AM
"I like Chinese, I like Chinese, they only come up to your knees, yet they're almost friendly...." tongue wink
Posted by Mikkel  on  Sat Mar 11, 2006  at  03:57 AM
aeiou, I think you just should visit China once and see/experience for your selve. You have a very distorted view of the country. You mention extremes (from second or third hand sources), and it is very easy to list these for any country, e.g. the United States.
Posted by LaMa  in  Europe  on  Sat Mar 11, 2006  at  10:20 AM
What is going on in the US? What's going on in Canada? The world is screwed up, not just China. Honestly, it seems hypocritical to insult china when the US has as many nasty, horrible things going on. What about things like school shootings in the US? What about (insert controversy du jour). The US has the same immoral practices. Stop looking at things like you're holier than thou. It's not just the US either. Canada's just as bad.

raspberry

Sorry for ranting. smile I'm just in a mood ... a ranting mood.
Posted by Dracul  on  Sat Mar 11, 2006  at  04:46 PM
ok, sorry: i ve completely over-reacted, it was a single chinese woman with stilettos and not the whole population of lil ole
Posted by aeiou  in  Rio de Janeiro  on  Sun Mar 12, 2006  at  01:27 AM
Okay...let's move back on topic. This entry is about the Massage Milk blog. Let's move back onto that.

I hate when people in Asia refer to "the west". I always take it to mean the western hemisphere...which really means the U.S. Just frickin' say it. If you're pissed at the U.S., then be pissed. No one is stopping you. Oh, wait. Your government is.
Posted by Maegan  in  Tampa, FL - USA  on  Sun Mar 12, 2006  at  07:11 AM
"I hate when people in Asia refer to "the west". I always take it to mean the western hemisphere...which really means the U.S."

Get real, Maegan. "The west" includes any country whose people have western principles, philosophies, religions, cultural tastes, political and social heritage etc. Quite a few of them ... sort of all through the western hemisphere, really. Western culture was over half the planet before a white face was ever seen in the USA; you just imported it like every other western colony.
Posted by Wendy  in  Wellington NZ  on  Sun Mar 12, 2006  at  03:43 PM
It seems to me that it is pretty easy to make sure it was a hoax or a case of governmemnt censorship later disguised as hoax - well, one should know how to read chinese, but anyway... It goes like this: if all the blog's content prior to the days it was off line is still there, then it was a hoax. If the content after the "hoax" is different from the content prior to it, then it was censorship. Great, isn't it?

If it was a hoax, i think i get it. Western people really have a prejudiced opinion on China (i.e. aeiou), especially USA people, as China is the greatest treat to USA imperialism nowadays. Isn't it clear, or are USA people so blind nowadays that even something like this hoax is impossible for them to get?
Posted by daniel  in  brasil  on  Tue Mar 14, 2006  at  05:18 PM
@daniel: i don t have any prejudices against china or any other country or people. i was just extremely tense after having seen that infamous kitten-crushing video. and when there came this post about the website-hoax it just canalised into blind rage, i just exploded. sorry about that. i wish i could delete that post.
Posted by aeiou  in  Rio de Janeiro  on  Tue Mar 14, 2006  at  05:50 PM
Report perceptions as facts is propaganda, but this time the propaganda comes from a different direction.

From a Slashdot reply
http://yro.slashdot.org/yro/06/03/14/1411254.shtml
Your kind of posts is exactly what they're talking about. There is absolutely no strong evidence that the Chinese government is behind it. But even then, you're already speculating that the government is involved even when they say the government isn't. Your "they're guilty until proven innocent" is exactly the irresponsible behavior they mean.

From China Daily

Wang Xiaofeng had been annoyed that he was constantly misquoted by foreign media. "Every time they interviewed me, they tried to steer the questions towards political topics, in which I have no interest. Even if I made no mention of anything political, the articles would come out as if I were an activist," he said. "Most of the foreign reporters are not readers of my blog, and the few snippets they read in translation are usually out of context so they appear to be political," he added.
Posted by jiangsheng  on  Wed Mar 15, 2006  at  05:25 PM
What the hoax proves, which the writer of the artticle failed to get, is that too often the Western (yes Amercian, Brtish, Canadian etc.) will jump to conclusions that when a country like China is being reported. Thus many news agencies ran the story of Chinese government censorship without contacting Mr Wang or collecting any evidence to back up that claim. Contrast that with say, a website being taken offline in the USA. The automatic reaction would be(hopefully) to investigate the cause of this. It is unlikely any paper would immediately yell censorship. In fact they would seek to get the views of the White House, pundits and the owners of the website before runing the story. It's not good enough to argue , as quite a few have here, that the Chinese govt. is evil/Totalitarian so such uncollaborated allegations are justifiable. That's just lazy journalism. Surely, we deserve a press that is responsible and actually does the job of reporting rather then conforming to common perceptions? How else can we trust them? If it is not bias could it be propoganda?Secondly, if one looks at the Partriot act, the anti-terrorism act in the UK,Guantanomo, Rendtion,Media manipulation pre and post Iraq 2003, NSA spying and the rest, we can see that government repression and media control is not the preserve of the Chinese. Yet the media will give the US/UK govts. the benefit of doubt and strive to appear impartial by providing the views of all sides (Fox News notwithstanding). So why the double standards when it comes to China?

Of Course, this does not mean China is a Saint. But what it shows is that China is not the bogeyman that politicans and the media make her out to be. Compared to 10-15 years ago, China has made important steps in freedom of expression. It is not North Korea, Shut off from the rest of the world under a one man tyranny. Rather it has opened up and is continuing to do so under the pressure of capitalism. Certaintly the Western Media should expose repression in China and elsewhere but they should do so with the same standards and practices. Anything less will resemble propoganda
Posted by Phil  in  London  on  Thu Jun 08, 2006  at  08:07 AM
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