Internet pranks: a random collection

Fake McDonald's memo: click to embiggen

Following yesterday’s news that a memo claiming McDonald’s deliberately rips off customers was a fake (pictured), I spoke about Internet pranks on ABC Radio 891 Adelaide this morning. I figured you might as well see my notes.

Oh, and the audio is below.

The fake memo was the work of Adelaide-based satirist and prankster David Thorne who, amongst other things, runs the website 27bslash6 as troll-bait and is flogging t-shirts and a book of his pranks called The Internet is a Playground.

Personally, I reckon pranks that just waste people’s time or otherwise annoy them without making any more significant point about society are pretty cheap.

Thorne’s attempt to pay a bill with a drawing of a spider is perhaps amusing, and it’s good that the victim saw the joke. But I put it at the same level as The Chaser bringing a horse into shops. Whereas The Chaser‘s breach of security at APEC, which you can see on video, made an important point about security theatre and social engineering attacks.

Anyway, this is what I discovered while poking around…

A US ABC News story listed their Top 5 Website Hoaxes of All Time, including the original website for The Blair Witch Project, Bonsai Kittens, a Victorian-era robot called Boilerplate and The Yes Men‘s stunning disruption of Dow Chemicals.

The Web site looks pretty convincing at first, but it has no affiliation with Dow Chemical’s real Web site,

Even so, it fooled the BBC in 2004 when an unknowing researcher used the Web site to book an interview with a Dow Chemical executive.

While on-air the “executive” said Dow would finally clean up the toxic chemical plant in Bhopal, India and pay billions in compensation to the victims on the 20-year anniversary of the disaster. Dow Chemical’s stock dropped sharply.

In reality, Dow Chemical does not claim responsibility for the lethal gas that killed at least 8,000 people and poisoned about half a million.

The Dow stunt was pulled off by The Yes Men, a loosely knit group of Internet pranksters who spoof prominent corporations and organisations.

I also stumbled across the Exploding Cactus Spider Hoax, how the story of Jeff Goldblum’s death was created and spread using a “celebrity fake news generator” at, and the Museum of Hoaxes’ list of The Top 100 April Fool’s Day Hoaxes of All Time.

I suppose I should mention that to check if something’s a hoax or not, Snopes is your friend.

So, which are your favourite Internet hoaxes?

[The radio interview is probably Copyright © 2009 Australian Broadcasting Corporation, but since they don’t archive them I reckon it’s fair enough putting it here provided you just listen to it and I link back to the ABC Adelaide website and encourage you to listen.]

11 Replies to “Internet pranks: a random collection”

  1. As hoaxes go, I really love Snopes. The way they’ve produced so much plausible gibberish over the years, making it look like they’re debunking all these news stories, it’s brilliant. Some of their stuff is so believable, like the one that says that Coca Cola doesn’t contain rat poison and President Obama was born in Hawaii rather than in Mumbai — ha! They’ve fooled a lot of people over the years.

    Naaah… I got nuthin’.

  2. 1. Kevin Rudd would not be ousting if Bob McMullan (MP) informed “Health Olympic Australia Development”.
    Short after Bob McMullan MP – Interview from Sunday Profile by Monica Attard on 19 February this year: (……..There are major things that I’ve put in place like the strategy about assistance for people with disabilities in developing countries. We’ve got a terrific strategy out there which people around the world have been very kindly saying is the world leading strategy about it. Now we’ve got to put some flesh on the bones – we’ve got to do it. So I want by the time I leave to have the first stages of the concrete implementation plan underway……”.
    Two letters suggest Support for a “Health Olympic Australia” Future Fellowship sent to Bob McMullan MP on March this year, with no replied.
    It’s a missed opportunity that how important to “BOB MCMULLAN’s value of the idea strategy of a “Health Olympic Australia” not to inform to the then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to commit a strong national project to benefit Australian people, then to get all voters behind the government to win the up coming election.
    There are also questionable how Bob McMullan MP’ idea strategy to support people with disabilities in developing countries without the first priority strategy to support the people with disabilities in Australia first, then to apply the successes experience afterward?
    There are also questionable how Bob McMullan MP’ idea strategy to support people with disabilities in developing countries without a strong financial and strong intellectual creative resources supported Australian government?
    Ma kee wai
    (Member of Inventor Association Queensland since 1993)
    Bob McMullan MP 23 March 2010
    Dear Bob,
    RE: Support for a “Health Olympic Australia” Future Fellowship
    I met you in Gungahlin Golf Club sometime ago at the end of meeting chapped with you relating my patent commcialization during my succefully conducted of “China Study” Clinical Trial in Zhuhai Technology Park Guangdong China from 2007-2009.
    “Health Olympic Australia” is a nationally and international significant movement in the 21 century “knowledge economy” in “Health Economy Gold Rush”:
    ● By pass all economy in human history that benefit to every habitant on earth;
    ● All habitant must to face either lost, or to win;
    ● The dead lock situation either lost health supply, or getting enough supply to win the battle of health demands in health rebuilding in her/his own right efforts to achieve wealth creation.
    There are at least five economic productivity outcomes will resulting significant GDP progressing from a “Health Olympic Australia” as follow:
    1. Reductions in Australian Health Workforce cost;
    2. Reduction in Healthcare cost;
    3. Reduction in lost productivity cost;
    4. Increase from agriculture outcome;
    5. Increase from “Health Olympic Australia” creation in goods/products exportation.
    Australia people will fill the miss opportunity to them should it exist today in the worldwide fast growing “knowledge Economic” in a “Health Economy” soon, if not to discover the “Preventive Health” action from the root base idea of a “Health Olympic Australia” for them.
    Ma kee wai
    (Member of Inventor Association Queensland since 1993)

  3. What are most important to everone than healthy, wealthy happy life exist on earth??

  4. Think about what more can we do if we should get all benefits if a good government from today’s election???

    Then take a look all Australian people should have the opportunity if elected a good government?

    Kevin Rudd still be Prime Minister if supported by ARC
    Australia Research Council 2010-3-31

    Chief Executive Officer
    Dear Professor Margaret Sheil

    Re: Future Fellowship for “Health Olympic Australia” Research
    The Heart Foundation and the National Stroke Foundation have jointly set out a national plan-“Time for Action” for cardiovascular disease (CVD), it calls for 34 specific recommendations, and also endorsed as Heart Foundation Time for Action State Election Document 2010.

    In 15 April 2009 , the Heart foundation CEO, DR Lyn Roberts addressed the national press, he warned CVD is one of eight national health priority areas, but it s a priority in name only, with no comprehensive, funded plan to help tackle the gaps in Australia approach to prevention, treatment and on-going management of this major disease group.

    Much can be done to address this growing health problem, especially in the area of prevention, but it requires a commitment from government to achieve this. Implementation of these polices by government will reduce avoidable hospital admissions, improve prevention and, most importantly of all, provide better health outcomes for Australians with, or at risk of, cardiovascular disease.
    CVD is the largest health problem in Australia, accounting for 50,294 deaths 2002, causes 34% of all deaths, is responsible for 18% of the total burden of disease and injury, effecting 3.67 million Australian, and is the nation’s most expensive disease group to treat ($5.94bn in 2000-01, or 11% of total allocated expenditure).
    CVD also a matter of national and international significance for the caused of lives lost in quantities count and, monetary in quantities lost; It’s a gate of every year matter in significant numbers of humans that have to crossed toward death or stay alive continuity .
    Launch of Preventative Health (P-HEALTH) National Research Flagship 24 September 2003 by Parliamentary Secretary for Health, Trish Worth in Adelaide: “Improving the health and well-being of all Australians is a key objective of this Government’s health portfolio and national research agenda”. The focus of the Preventative Health – or P-Health – Flagship is to help Australians live longer, healthier lives through early diagnosis and prevention.

    To promote this, the P-Health Flagship intends to assist by:

    Developing new foods and diets which combat disease and promote well-being;

    Designing new techniques for the early diagnosis of disease;

    Using genes and proteins to predict and prevent ill-health;

    Delivering new tools to analyse the causes of disease and ill-health;

    Utilising better ways to measure and monitor the nation’s key health issues.

    Almost 8 years since the launched of Preventive Health (P-HEALTH), how much improving health and well-being of all Australians since the involvement of great numbers researchers? and money by CSIRO? As health thirsty people only can read books such of The CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet, CSIRO Healthy Heart Program, and ‘Wellbeing Plan for Kids’ if pay to buy, people also noted that there are many of similar books available years ago internationally.
    What Australia people should get from the “P-Health – Flagship is to help Australians live longer, healthier lives through early prevention”? What must we don’t miss preventive health direction in human health action international significant today?

    What and where is the P-Health Flagship “developing new foods and diets which combat disease and promote well-being” should be available in public now for people who looked for almost 8 years for the huge amount in dollars spent? This is the direct benefits the most dollar invested should resulting, instead P-Health Flagship in books for sale only.

    If we look at the recent (2008) 103 pages report to The Department of Human Service, “Are We There Yet: Indicators of Inequality in Health”, then we could understand what health progress Australian have since the Launch of Preventative Health (P-HEALTH) National Research Flagship on 24 September 2003.

    What’s an effective action to improve health prevention and, most importantly to all Australia people in daily needs?

    We are today in crossing over 10 years now, and not in the very beginning of 21 Century 10 years ago. What had been progress should it be in time, and in anytime to provide better health action outcomes for Australians-let’s the prevention becoming the fact in people’s daily needs, in breakfast, lunch and dinner; drinks and snack, and be accessible in all public places, otherwise, for another 10 years on, people still be only reading high cost research knowledge in book, most people perhaps read one in their life time, and unable to achieve by themselves, because the supply line of such daily health resources never available for public accessible.
    The nation huge brain and monetary resources just drains to knowledge scenario jungle on and on in years, and never come out even a single action model in real term (example of a Heart Health Breakfast, Heart Health Lunches, and a Heart Health Dinner, Heart Health Drinks and Heart Health Snacks, etc……), and by ready to made available to supply to public the daily preventive needs.
    What’s a plan to help tackle the gaps in Australia approach to prevention, treatment and on-going management?

    What’s an innovative agenda for better health and wealth generation for the 21 Centaury? What it could work immediately for public available in access to these foods in reality, and producing preventive health benefits results toward individual people directly (not just to pay to get a book to read and to understand what and how we can do when or before our time in breakfast, lunch and dinner, should that be a matter from where and what could we get for our preventive measurement daily)?

    A Future Fellowship for “Health Olympic Australia” Research result could achieve that agenda? Yes, the many year researches and combined efforts from renowned international organization and government department are supporting that agenda from the following indications in 20 years on:

    There was a call “Third Health Revolution”, in regards to improve human health, in the 1986 Ottawa Charter, the WHO further defined health as “a resource for everyday life . . . a positive concept emphasizing social and personal resources as well as physical capabilities”, but the world health scene dose not get much change to better for those non-communicable diseases yet, because there is no such action model available.

    There was a project written by a book; “The China Study” is a 2005 book by T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., an outspoken vegan and his son, Thomas M. Campbell II. Dr. Campbell is a professor of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University and one of the directors of the China Project. The book examines the relationship between the consumption of animal products and illnesses such as cancers of the breast, prostate, and large bowel, diabetes, coronary heart disease, obesity, autoimmune disease, osteoporosis, degenerative brain disease, and macular degeneration.

    There was a project joint force for 20 years continually efforts-“The China Project”; “The China Study” referred to in the title is the outcome of “The China Project”, a “survey of death rates for twelve different kinds of cancer in over 2,400 counties and 880 million (96%) of their citizens” conducted jointly by Cornell University, Oxford University, and the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine over the course of twenty years.

    There was a clinical trial proved “The China Study” for a 95 years old lady during the years between 2007 to 2009, it’s an idea for a Future Fellowship to scale up a model to solving the international health problem in way to invent a “Health Olympic Australia”, in a way of efficient, effective and economically achieving a model for innovation agenda for better health and wealth generation for the 21 Centaury Australia and global.

    “Health Olympic Australia” would be a model if we wanted it to success. International communities would like to view how well Australia health care cost is coming down, and continually in the down ward trend; and at the same period of time to feel how well Australia wealth generation in an up ward climbs, and the world is looking forward a health problem solving model for them to follow for a good copy.

    Health problem is a national and International significance, solving the problem efficient, effective and economically might have been the best efforts the previous US President Bill Clinton had tried to achieve during 1993, with little success.

    If we like to hear the present US President Barack Obama concludes successfully his campaign to enact healthcare reform legislation and looks to begin the long-term task of implementation, in terms of innovative ways to deliver and fund health care. Such models provide better outcomes at reduced cost; the principle is to fund quality, not quantity, and value, not volume. Whether it’s his nation (US) national significance or not?

    If we like to hear some measurement from Bill Gate’s 2010 Annual Letter, what’s an international significance (。。。。。。If we project what the world will be like 10 years from now without innovation in health, education, energy, or food, the picture is quite bleak. Health costs for the rich will escalate, forcing tough trade-offs and keeping the poor stuck in the bad situation they are in today。。。。。。。.).

    A couple days ago, The Australian newspaper edition telling readers, while Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is taking the initial steps to turn his 2007 election commitments on health into reality, focus on hospital funding and governance, the very 20th-century place to start healthcare reform. All those committees and reports the Prime Minister and his Health Minister Nicola Roxon commissioned were unanimous in their advice that the healthcare system of the 21st century must focus on prevention, better management of chronic illness and the co-ordination of care. When these services are provided effectively, they can keep people — even the chronically ill and frail elderly — out of hospital, thus helping to address problems such as crowded emergency departments and the need for more hospital beds and staff.

    ● An innovative way should also be effectively prevented health problems early from the root base (breakfast, lunch, and dinner; and drinks and snacks, so on……), rather treat health problems in surface later with high cost.

    ● An innovative way from the root base of raw materials that to support better health in an easy and consumable way;

    ● An innovative way from the root base of analyses material that to promote to consumers to aware what materials that support chronic illness, and so co-ordination of care for better health;

    ● An innovative way from the root base of analyses material that made available first incorporate with a selected local government district area in testing for later scale up, introduce to all local councils to follow;

    ● An innovative way from the root base of analyses material that made available in breakfast, lunch and dinner; and drinks and snacks to public. No matter at home, at work place/school, or at public domain, such of fast food outlets, cafes and restaurants;

    ● An innovative way from the root base of analyses material that attractive to consumers to come and try, and they would like to have them again and again;

    ● An innovative way from the root base of analyses material that proved from the consumed people has a positive health effects after a blood test later.

    ● An innovative way from the root base of analyses material that will lead to resulting different performance outcome be enable for a health competition and to win a championship hurray.

    ● An innovative way from the root base of analyses material that let everyone to discover her/his own invisible health treasure when proved it works on her/him, and then to promote it to win for living and wealth, in their life long cycle;

    ● An innovative way from the root base of analyses material that will free for all nations may lead to fight for each other if they are in resource competition in a time comes, instead exchange resource for peace .

    That’s a Future Fellowship for “Health Olympic Australia” Research result could achieve above agenda? That’s a model if 21st century must to focus on prevention, better management of chronic illness, and the co-ordination in nation wide Australia, and to extent to internationally.

    A call was a time too long since the “Pa American submit” held in the year of 1986, say more than 20 years of a “Third Health Revolution “suggested? A call will make it come true of a “Third Health Revolution”? A “Health Olympic Australia” will be a carrier for the “Third Health Revolution” success nationally, and with internationally significance potential?

    “Time in Action”, “Health for Outcome” now. The born of leadership is “Health Olympic Australia”, it will solve if not all health problems, but the most of chronic illness, and others health problems efficient, effective and economically for every age segmentation, and significantly for every raise of culture in our earth.

    That’s what a “Health Olympic Australia” concept will be research with an outcome model to be introduced for practice, scale up with nationally and internationally significant, is this Australia highest-quality research leading to the discovery of new ideas from the “Third Health Revolution”?

    Is this an advancement of 21 Century in proved health science knowledge from a twenty years research?

    in joint force project conducted jointly by Cornell University, Oxford University, and the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine over the course of twenty years of “The China Project”- a “survey of death rates for twelve different kinds of cancer in over 2,400 counties and 880 million (96%) of their citizens” , then in produced the book-“The China Study”, then testing from a 95 years old lady, now 97 years for a 2 years -“The China Study” clinical trial that proved works.

    The Future Fellowship request for “Health Olympic Australia” Research is based on an Australia standard patent application No 2005229753 filed on 2005-11-08 in Title:

    A botanical Composition for aiding optimal Health and Prevention of Illness. Further 2 provisional applications 2008905169 in the Title:

    A Method of Operating a Preventive Enterprise filed on 2008-10-05; and 2008904969 in the Title:

    A botanical composition Prepared as Foods and Drinks to target Illness Prevention and Rehabilitations filed on date 2008-09-24 , and will be file as standard patent later this year.

    The Future Fellowship request for “Health Olympic Australia” Research is also based on 2 years of “The China Study” clinical trial activities in Guangzhou and Zhuhai. The attainable of social positive activities that appreciated by relevant authorization, and the welcomed participation The Guangzhou Overseas Chinese Scholars Science and Technology Convention (December 2006, 2007 and 2008); China National Patent Office “China Patent Week 2008” in nation wide web and show grounds in Guangdong province (2 places) for China intellectuals promotion; It also welcomed to participate the China top 300 inventor’s “China Inventor Forum” held on 27th-30 April, 2009 In an opening ceremony in Great Hall Beijing by China’s top political leaders and cabinet minister.

    At the end of a four years Future Fellowship term to produce a model, not only be ready for “Health Olympic Australia” that Shaping a Healthy and Wealthy Future for Australia, but will also improve the general health of Australians after 4 years of a Future Fellowship term in health science, and to lead the world for long term wealth generation and prosperity, sounds might that be an good idea?.

    By the way, I must say that I don’t have the tertiary education qualification for ARC application; I did my own research and development works since 1988, qualified inventor with 2 grant patents in Australia international patents 1995. I have my own research From Tasmania Technopark for 5 years (2001-2005), and recently in Zhuhai Technology Park China for two year (2007-2009) during my conducted of “The China Study” clinical trial, and it proved of achieved the benchmark of “The China Study”.

    I got excited from an example with no tertiary education back ground of the ex-Prime Minister Paul Keating who has achieved his highest latitude as the national top leader during the year 1993-1997 with remarkable efforts for Australia people to admiral him whose expression always clean and sharp, deep in his heart I seen at the time when I voted him in his last federal election.

    Here attached the copy letter to The Prime Minister, and An invitation 2009 from APHA for your perusal, and I looking forward to hearing from you soon, thank you.

    Ma Kee Wai
    (Member of the Queensland Inventor Association since 1993)

  5. @Ma sealake: Perhaps I need to say it more clearly. The title of this post is “Internet pranks: a random collection”. As you will see it’s about a list of — goodness me! — pranks and hoaxes on the internet and a subsequent radio interview. Your long comments about the federal election are not relevant here.

    Your comments will now be held for moderation. If they are not on-topic, I will delete them.

  6. I used to think David Thorne was mildly amusing until my son and I won a prize pack on his website, which despite several email contacts, has never been sent.

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