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Fake News: China Did NOT Slap Two-Thousand-Per-Cent Tariff On Tanning Beds

  • by: Maarten Schenk
  • (Mon, 09 Jul 2018 17:33:52 Z)

Did China put a 2,000% tariff on tanning beds and a 4,000% one on spray-tan products in order to hurt President Donald Trump personally during the ongoing trade war? No, that's not true: the story was made up by a satirical columnist in The New Yorker but because of the domain name many people presumably thought it was real news.

The story originated from an article published by The Borowitz Report on July 9, 2018 titled "China Slaps Two-Thousand-Per-Cent Tariff on Tanning Beds" (archived here) which opened:

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)--In the latest salvo in its escalating trade war with the United States, China has slapped all tanning beds slated for export to the U.S. with a two-thousand-per-cent tariff.

By artificially hiking up the cost of its tanning beds, China succeeded in sending the price of tanning beds worldwide soaring in overnight markets.

In what some experts regarded as a related move, China also placed a four-thousand-per-cent tariff on all spray-tan products headed for the U.S., as well as instant-tanning lotions, makeup foundation, and several popular hues of orange paint, including butter rum and burnt sienna.

Screenshot of https://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/china-slaps-two-thousand-per-cent-tariff-on-tanning-beds

Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail:

China Slaps Two-Thousand-Per-Cent Tariff on Tanning Beds

The White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, blasted China's tariffs on its full range of tanning products, calling the move an "act of war."

The story actually appeared in the satire column of The New Yorker ("The Borowitz Report" by Andy Borowitz) which was acquired in 2012 by the magazine. Although the section with the columns and all the articles in it are clearly marked as satire the stories frequently get confused for real news by people who only see the title and summary on social media and who assume it must be real because the link goes to the actual website of The New Yorker. To them it would look somewhat like this, with an easy to miss "Not the news" being the only indication it is not real:

In part to combat this the main page of The Borowitz Report comes with a clear heading that simply states:

Satire from the Borowitz Report

satirefromtheborowitzreport.jpg

To be safe, whenever you see a link that goes to any article on the "newyorker.com" website, always check if the rest of the link says "/humor/borowitz-report/" somewhere. If it does, don't believe a thing you read...

We wrote about newyorker.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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