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Hoax Alert

Fake News: NO Snakes Released in Hinckley Lake, Did NOT Cause Mass Hysteria

  • by: Maarten Schenk
  • (Sat, 18 Aug 2018 08:08:27 Z)

Were snakes released into Hinckley Lake near Hickley Township, Ohio, and did this cause mass hysteria? No, that's not true: the story was uploaded by some joker to a prank website that lets anyone create a fake news article. It subsequently went viral but it is not real.

The story originated from an article published on nsfnews.com on or around August 16, 2018 titled "Snakes Released in Hinckley Lake Causes Mass Hysteria" (archived here) which opened:

August 3rd animal control found 3 species of snakes that were released into Hinckley Lake. 3 Water Moccasins, 2 Timber Rattlesnakes And 4 Boa Constrictors ranging from 1"-6ft in length have been found since August 3rd. Animal control and Hinckley police have been persistent on handling the issue at hand but yet to gather all the snakes. Warning signs will be going up since animal control and Hinckley police still do not have a guess on just how many snakes have been released into the water.

Screenshot of https://www.nsfnews.com/5b71ab4a1fc68/snakes-released-in-hinckley-lake-causes-mass-hysteria.html

Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail, leading them to think it was a real news website:

Snakes Released in Hinckley Lake Causes Mass Hysteria

August 3rd animal control found 3 species of snakes that were released into Hinckley Lake. 3 Water Moccasins, 2 Timber Rattlesnakes And 4 Boa Constrictors ranging from 1"-6ft in length have been found since August 3rd. Animal control and Hinckley police have been persistent on handling the issue at hand but yet to gather all the snakes. Warning signs will be going up since animal control and Hinckley police still do not have a guess on just how many snakes have been released into the water.

The site that published the story is a prank website where users can submit their own headline, description and photo to create realistic looking prank news articles.

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Users don't even need to upload their own image, there is a built-in search function that will pull an appropriate image from Google image search.

The site is part of a larger network of prank sites all using the same basic layout but sometimes in different languages. It appears to be run by a Belgian company named Mediavibes or Media Vibes which is managed by a man named Nicolas Gouriou according to registration records.

Each site in the network comes with a disclaimer (sometimes translated into a different language) that reads:

This website is an entertainment website, jokes are created by users. These are humourous jokes, fantasy, fictional, that should not be seriously taken or as a source of information.

So don't fall for this prank now that we've warned you about it!

We wrote about nsfnews.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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