This weekend, a randomly generated fake news article that Avril Lavigne had died in a snowboarding accident coincided with a real incident where her boyfriend, Brody Jenner, was injured in a surfboarding accident.
The false story about Lavigne was created at “Global Associated News”, a website where visitors can enter a celebrity’s name to get a randomly generated selection of news stories created for that celebrity- most reporting death or injury – with a corresponding and authentic looking article page to go with them.
While many of these generated story pages have lengthy details and made up quotes related to the incident, the one used in this recent hoax about Lavigne is in the style of a ‘breaking news’ story – the article’s three paragraphs ending with: “Additional details and information will be updated as it becomes available. This story is still developing “.
Along with a believable ‘newsy’ appearance, each story page likewise includes a Twitter button to tweet/post the story to friends and followers; potentially spreading the false article even further across the internet – possibly even becoming viral, as other readers also link to the story on their blogs, Facebook pages, etc.
Coincidentally, about the same time Lavigne’s snowboarding death hoax was circled the globe on Twitter (the article page’s Tweetmeme ‘retweet’ button indicates more than 4000 people have posted a link), her boyfriend Brody Jenner posted messages – and a graphic photo – to his Twitter account, reporting he had received a deep cut from his surfboard while surfing in Hawaii.
Based on his posts, it appears his arm was cut by the fin on his surfboard while catching the first wave of an inbound swell. He later had the wound stitched up and lamented the fact he wouldn’t be able to play golf or surf for the next week. He also indicated realizing at the time that his board may have been too small for the attempt, but decided to follow the advice of local surfers to go anyway and “paid the price”.
Aside from expressing disappointment that he wouldn’t be able to golf or surf while in Hawaii for the next week, Jenner’s light-hearted twitter posts display that he has been taking the accident in stride.