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Fake News: Flu Vaccine NOT Recalled Due To Defective Government Tracking Microchips

  • by: Maarten Schenk
  • (Wed, 09 May 2018 14:59:31 Z)

Was the flu vaccine recalled because the government tracking microchips in it were defective? No, that's not true: the story was launched by a satire website that aimed to make fun of the various unproven conspiracy theories surrounding vaccination, for example that they contain government tracking chips or you get autism from them. Unfortunately running such a fake satirical headline will probably result in several people actually believing it.

The story originated from an article by The Onion published on May 8, 2018 titled "Flu Vaccine Recalled Due To Defective Government Tracking Microchips" (archived here) which opened:

WASHINGTON--After it was discovered that hundreds of thousands of the state-sanctioned radar systems had short circuited, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a recall of the flu vaccine Friday due to defective government tracking microchips. "In response to reports that devices planted in the serum were not properly monitoring Americans movements at all times, we have decided to pull all flu vaccines from pharmacies and clinics," said CDC director Robert R. Redfield, explaining that anyone who received a vaccine within the last 5 years had likely been given a malfunctioning location-detecting chip and would be offered a replacement free of charge.

Screenshot of https://www.theonion.com/flu-vaccine-recalled-due-to-defective-government-tracki-1825854033

Robert R. Redfield is the actual director of the Centers gor Disease Control and Prevention but he never spoke those words and the CDC website does not have any announcements about a recall due to defective government tracking chips either.

And that is because The Onion is one of the oldest and best known satire websites on the internet. Their about page claims:

The Onion is the world's leading news publication, offering highly acclaimed, universally revered coverage of breaking national, international, and local news events. Rising from its humble beginnings as a print newspaper in 1756, The Onion now enjoys a daily readership of 4.3 trillion and has grown into the single most powerful and influential organization in human history.

In addition to maintaining a towering standard of excellence to which the rest of the industry aspires, The Onion supports more than 350,000 full- and part-time journalism jobs in its numerous news bureaus and manual labor camps stationed around the world, and members of its editorial board have served with distinction in an advisory capacity for such nations as China, Syria, Somalia, and the former Soviet Union. On top of its journalistic pursuits, The Onion also owns and operates the majority of the world's transoceanic shipping lanes, stands on the nation's leading edge on matters of deforestation and strip mining, and proudly conducts tests on millions of animals daily.

If you somehow find that hard to believe: you are right. Scroll down a bit futher on that page and you'll find this:

What if I want to sue The Onion?
Please do not do that. The First Amendment protects satire as a form of free speech and expression. The Onion uses invented names in all of its stories, except in cases where public figures are being satirized. Any other use of real names is accidental and coincidental. The Onion is not intended for readers under 18 years of age.

Articles from The Onion are frequently mistaken for real news by people on social media that only see the headline, short description and thumbnail image. Being one of the best known satire sites their articles also frequently get copied by "real" fake news sites that don't carry a satire disclaimer. Always Google before sharing something that sounds improbable!

We wrote about theonion.com before, here are our most recent articles that mention the site:

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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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Lead Stories uses the Trendolizer™ engine to detect the most trending stories from known fake news, satire and prank websites and tries to debunk them as fast as possible. Read more about how we work and how we select stories to check here.

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