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Hoax Alert

Fake News: Canadian Trapper NOT Sexually Assaulted By 200-Pound Beaver

  • by: Maarten Schenk
  • (Tue, 06 Mar 2018 23:23:21 Z)

Did you read the 'news' about Bill O'Connor, a 63-year old Canadian trapper who was assaulted by a 200-pound beaver near Jackhead on Lake Winnipeg? None of it happened although it was very funny if you love sexual double-entendres and puns.

The source of the story is a satirical article published on March 6th 2018 (archived here) titled "Canadian trapper survives brutal sexual assault by 200-pound beaver" from the website World News Daily Report. It opened:

Jackhead | A Canadian trapper claims he has survived a brutal sexual assault by what he calls the "biggest beaver he has ever seen."

Bill O'Connor, 63, was checking his beaver traps near Lake Winnipeg when a large bear-like creature attacked him out of nowhere.

O'Connor, who first thought he was being mauled by a small bear or wolverine, soon realized it was, in fact, a very large-sized beaver.

"I had never seen a beaver of this size in my entire life," he told local reporters.

The beaver, apparently bruised by one his traps, was extremely aggressive and even managed to knock the sixty-three-year-old man unconscious before he awoke minutes later.

The man shown in the picture that goes with the story is actually Gordon Webber, an actual fur trapper from New Hampshire. We found his picture in a 2015 archived article in the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript so unless he changed his name and moved to Canada it is definitely not him.

trapper.jpg

The website World News Daily Report is a well known satire website specialized in posting hoaxes and made up stories. The disclaimer on their website is pretty clear about that even though you have to scroll all the way down the page to find it:

World News Daily Report assumes all responsibility for the satirical nature of its articles and for the fictional nature of their content. All characters appearing in the articles in this website - even those based on real people - are entirely fictional and any resemblance between them and any person, living, dead or undead, is purely a miracle.

It is run by Janick Murray-Hall and Olivier Legault, who also run the satirical Journal de Mourréal, a satirical site spoofing the (real) Journal de Montéal.

People who saw the story on social media did not get to see the satire disclaimer and many possibly believed the story to be true because it would have looked something like this to them:

Canadian trapper survives brutal sexual assault by 200-pound beaver

Jackhead | A Canadian trapper claims he has survived a brutal sexual assault by what he calls the "biggest beaver he has ever seen." Bill O'Connor, 63, was checking his beaver traps near Lake Winnipeg when a large bear-like creature attacked him out of nowhere.

Stories from the site frequently get copied by real fake news websites that omit the satire disclaimer and any mention of the source (sites that copy content without even acknowledging their source are terrible; unfortunately we know this from experience). In any case this is one of the most viral stories published by the site lately, breaking over 1000 Facebook engagements in one day (something that has happened rarely over the past few weeks).

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About the author:

Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk
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